Blessing for ‘gay’ couples allowed

Blessing for ‘gay’ couples allowed
SunStar Local News GPX

POPE Francis’ formal approval of letting Catholic priests administer conditional blessing to same-sex couples is “a significant step toward fostering greater acceptance and respect for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Mandaue City Treasurer Regal Oliva, a lawyer, in a text message sent to SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, said the development also dignifies humanity in the Catholic Church by recognizing the importance of inclusivity and compassion.

Oliva, who was elected as president of the Cebu Lady Lawyers Association in March and is the first transgender woman to hold the position, said the gesture demonstrated a commitment to embracing the diversity inherent in human relationships within the framework of faith.


“This gesture reflects a commitment to embracing the diversity of human relationships while upholding the values of love and understanding within the context of faith,” she said.

On Monday, Dec. 18, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has permitted priests to bless same-sex couples, signaling a significant change in policy to promote inclusivity while upholding the church’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The Vatican’s document expands on a letter Francis sent to two conservative cardinals in October, where he hinted at the possibility of such blessings under specific conditions, ensuring they do not resemble the marriage ritual.

The updated document reaffirms this condition and offers additional specifics, underlining that marriage is characterized as a lifelong union between a man and a woman. The Vatican maintains its stance that marriage is an unbreakable union between a man and a woman, a position it has upheld for a long period.


The Vatican has consistently opposed same-sex marriage and views homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered.” The recent document does not alter these established teachings.

It emphasizes that these blessings should not be tied to a specific Catholic celebration or religious service and should not coincide with a civil union ceremony. Additionally, the blessings must avoid using established rituals or incorporating wedding-related clothing and gestures.

“It will be possible to bless same-sex couples but without any type of ritualization or offering the impression of a marriage,” the report said.

It says requests for such blessings for same-sex couples should not be denied. It offers an extensive and broad definition of the term “blessing” in Scripture to insist that people seeking a transcendent relationship with God and looking for his love and mercy shouldn’t be held up to an impossible moral standard to receive it.

“For, those seeking a blessing should not be required to have prior moral perfection,” it said.

“There is no intention to legitimize anything, but rather to open one’s life to God, to ask for his help to live better, and also to invoke the Holy Spirit so that the values of the Gospel may be lived with greater faithfulness,” it added.

The document marks the latest gesture of outreach from a pope who has made welcoming LGBTQ+ Catholics a hallmark of his papacy. From his 2013 quip, “Who am I to judge?” about a purportedly gay priest, to his 2023 comment to The Associated Press that “Being homosexual is not a crime,” Francis has distinguished himself from all his predecessors with his message of welcome.

Significant step

“The significance of this news cannot be overstated,” said Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, which supports LGBTQ+ Catholics. “It is one thing to formally approve same-gender blessings, which he had already pastorally permitted, but to say that people should not be subjected to ‘an exhaustive moral analysis’ to receive God’s love and mercy is an even more significant step.”

Although some welcomed the Vatican’s statement as a step toward reducing discrimination in the Catholic Church, certain LGBTQ+ advocates cautioned that it reinforces the notion that gay couples are considered inferior to heterosexual or “straight” relationships.

Edrine Durante, a 24-year-old transgender woman scientist from Barangay T. Padilla, Cebu City, believes the development will only foster further discrimination towards LGBTQ+ couples.

LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (or queer), while the plus sign represents space for the expanding and new understanding of different parts of the very diverse gender and sexual identities.

No changes

Durante, crowned Queen of Cebu City North pageant last year, said that allowing the blessing of LGBTQ+ couples inside the Catholic Church does not signify real inclusivity, as marriage remains a privilege only granted to straight couples.

“The blessing does not change anything at all because there is still discrimination between the members of the LGBTQ+ community and the hetero,” she said.

She said that this will be a hot topic in the country, especially that, while we are in the contemporary age, the majority still see LGBTQ+ as a taboo topic, particularly with the pushed SOGIESC Bill that seemed to lack support from the legislators.

And in 2021, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said flat-out that the church couldn’t bless the unions of two men or two women because “God cannot bless sin.”

That 2021 pronouncement created an outcry and appeared to have blindsided Francis, even though he had technically approved its publication.

Soon after it was published, he removed the official responsible for it and set about laying the groundwork for a reversal.

Pending legislation

In the Philippines, the SOGIESC, (sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics) or later evolved into the Sogie Equality Bill, which aims to criminalize discrimination, has languished in Congress for over two decades.

Its first version was introduced in the House of Representatives in January 2000 yet.

Meanwhile, Ulrich Lehner, a theology professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, United States, brought to online platform X (formerly known as Twitter) his disagreement with the new Vatican document.

“The Vatican’s statement, in my view, is the most unfortunate public announcement in decades. Its imprecise language invites misunderstanding and will sow confusion,” a portion of his statement reads.

The professor explicitly said in his post on social media that “it is, and I hate to say it, an invitation to schism.”

A schism is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination.

SunStar Cebu sought the Archdiocese of Cebu for comment, however, spokesman Msgr. Joseph Tan said he is yet to read the whole document. He also advised to go directly to Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma for comment.

Palma, however, did not answer texts and calls of SunStar Cebu, as of press time. (with HIC)


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