Same-Sex Blessing: Let the Pope be

By Nnamdi Okwaraojiego

The Catholic Church and Pope Francis in particular, have come under attack over the Pope’s statement on the blessing for same-sex couples.

The Vatican on Monday approved a landmark ruling to allow Roman Catholic priests to administer blessings to same-sex couples as long as such blessings were not part of regular Church rituals or liturgies, nor given in contexts related to civil unions or weddings.

Mixed reactions trailed the Pope’s statement. However, amid the controversy, the Vatican subsequently issued a declaration and clarified that “such blessings should not be conducted with any church rites that offer the impression of a marriage”.

The declaration added that “the doctrine regarding marriage does not change, and the blessing does not signify approval of the union” and that “only sexual relations between a man and a woman in the context of marriage are considered lawful”.

Despite the caveat, the declaration reflects a significant shift in Vatican doctrine, a welcome development in the struggle by the LGBT group for inclusion as members of the Christian community.

In 2021, the Vatican decreed that the Catholic Church would not bless gay marriages because God “cannot bless sin”. But in a turn of events two months ago, Francis hinted that he would be open to having the Catholic Church bless same-sex unions.

The Pope said “pastoral charity” requires patience and understanding, adding that priests should not become judges “who only deny, reject and exclude”.

He said a blessing requested is a plea for God’s help to live a better life even in situations that are “not morally acceptable”.

So the latest development in the church is a win for the LGBT community all over the world.

Since Pope Francis took office in 2013, he has worked to reform church governance, making it less hierarchical and paying more attention to those who have expressed concerns about exclusion.

I am among those who believe that priests should offer blessings without limitations. Even if a known killer seeks a blessing, a priest would oblige, but the words used might differ, possibly including phrases like “May God inspire you to live according to His will.”

As the debate rages on, all I can say is let the Pope be; and let the same-sex couples breathe.

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