The Vatican has come out against same-sex unions, decreeing that the Catholic Church cannot bless gay couples as God “cannot bless sin”.

Out celebrities like Elton John called out the Catholic Church’s “hypocrisy”, while LGBTQI Catholic groups said they were “disappointed” with the Vatican’s views, which they feared will have the effect of inflaming homophobia across the world. 

In a tweet, Elton John posted an image of a newspaper article that had reported the Vatican investing over $1.2 million in his Hollywood biopic Rocketman. “How can the Vatican refuse to bless gay marriages because they “are sin”, yet happily make a profit from investing millions in “Rocketman” – a film which celebrates my finding happiness from my marriage to David??”, the singer tweeted.

London-based Quest, a pastoral support group for LGBT+ Catholics termed the statement disappointing and questioned the timing.

“The statement and explanatory note do not change anything that we did not already know. What is interesting is it comes at a time when progressives, including some Bishops, are considering with discernment the lived rather than mythical experiences of LGBT+ people of faith living in stable, committed and faithful relationships. Many parishes are already affirming their LGBT+ siblings whether single or in relationships,” the organisation said in a statement. 

It pointed out that the unfortunate statement would have a damaging impact on LGBTQI+ communities. “Statements like these continue to marginalise us and as a result inflame homophobia when read by some as licence to discriminate,” said Quest. 

Decree Against Same-Sex Catholic Couples

The decree was published by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that is responsible for promoting and defending Catholic doctrine. It was published the response on Monday to the question: “Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?”

The short answer: “Negative”, while the longer two page response sought to explain the reason the Catholic church did not want to validate gay couples. The statement said Pope Francis Xavier was informed of the decree and had approved the response.

The Vatican document said same-sex marriages could not be equated with marriage between a man and a woman and these unions according to the Church were “not ordered to the Creator’s plan”” 

The decree sought to reiterate its position between how the church should treat those who sin (supposedly gay people) and the sin (meaning sexual relations between gay people). 

“(God) does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him,” the statement said. 

The decree said that while Churches and pastors should not discriminate against gay people, they did not have the power to bless same sex-couples. 

Blessing Gay Couples Declared Illicit

“The answer to the proposed dubium 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,” the document said.

The Vatican said that Catholic priests blessing gay couples would “approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God.” 

The Vatican’s decree stands in sharp contract to Pope Francis’ statement endorsing legal protection to gay couples – the comments were made in a 2019 nterview with a Mexican television station, Televisa, but was suppressed by the Vatican till it appeared in a documentary last year. 

Quest said that though Pope Francis has signed off on the new decree, they were hopeful of his past statements. “He was talking about civil rights and not hierarchically determined church rights and he rightly separates the two.  For too long they have been conflated and this deliberate confusion has been led by some in the hierarchical church,” said the organisation.


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