In a big change from Vatican policy, Pope Francis officially permitted Roman Catholic priests bless same-sex couples on Monday. A document from the Vatican that was approved by the pope says that the blessings can happen as long as they are not part of normal Church rituals or liturgies and they are not done at the same time as a civil union.
The latest rule elaborates on the opening the pope made to blessing same-sex couples last October and marks a shift away from a 2021 rule from the Vatican doctrine office which banned any blessings saying God “cannot bless sin.”
But since July 2023, the doctrine department has been headed by Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, an Argentinian prelate and ally of Francis, who has a different tone than that of his predecessors.
“When people ask for a blessing, an exhaustive moral analysis should not be placed as a precondition for giving it,” the declaration, authored by Cardinal Fernandez and another official, states. “The grace of God works in the lives of those who do not claim to be righteous but who acknowledge themselves humbly as sinners, like everyone else.”
The new ruling says it is allowing “the possibility of blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex” although says it is leaving decisions to “the prudent and fatherly discernment of ordained ministers.”