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Vatican says no blessing gay unions, no negative judgment on gay people

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A same-sex couple is pictured in a file photo exchanging rings during a ceremony in Salt Lake City. The Vatican’s doctrinal office says in a new note that any form of blessing of same-sex unions is “illicit,” but that the negative judgment is on the blessing of unions, not the people, who must be respected. CNS photo/Jim Urquhar, Reuters

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While homosexual men and women must be respected, any form of blessing a same-sex union is “illicit,” said the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The negative judgment is on the blessing of unions, not the people who may still receive a blessing as individuals, it said in a statement published March 15. The statement was a response to a question or “dubium” that came from priests and lay faithful “who require clarification and guidance concerning a controversial issue,” said an official commentary accompanying the statement. The response to the question, “Does the church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” was “Negative.” “It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage — i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life — as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex,” the doctrinal office said in an explanatory note accompanying the statement. Pope Francis approved both the statement and the note for publication. “The Christian community and its pastors are called to welcome with respect and sensitivity persons with homosexual inclinations and will know how to find the most appropriate ways, consistent with church teaching, to proclaim to them the Gospel in its fullness,” the explanatory note said.

The clarification “does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations, who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by church teaching.”

“Rather, it declares illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions as such. In this case, in fact, the blessing would manifest not the intention to entrust such individual persons to the protection and help of God, in the sense mentioned above, but to approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God,” said the doctrinal office.

The statement came days before the launch March 19 of a yearlong reflection on “Amoris Laetitia” that will focus on the family and conjugal love.

The date marks the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), which affirmed church teaching on family life and marriage, but also underlined the importance of the church meeting people where they are in order to help guide them on a path of discernment and making moral decisions.

The doctrinal congregation said in its note that some church communities had promoted “plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the same sex.”

“Such projects are not infrequently motivated by a sincere desire to welcome and accompany homosexual persons, to whom are proposed paths of growth in faith,” it said.

In fact, the question of blessing same-sex unions arose from this “sincere desire to welcome and accompany homosexual persons” as indicated by Pope Francis at the conclusion of the two synodal assemblies on the family, it said.

That invitation, it added, was for communities “to evaluate, with appropriate discernment, projects and pastoral proposals directed to this end,” and in some cases, those proposals included blessings given to the unions of persons of the same sex.

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