Pope Francis has now signed off on Catholic priests blessing gay couples.  It is a major step forward in recognizing that gay people exist and gay love happens and gay unions are real and gay love is love and, after all, didn’t someone once say that “God is love”?  (See 1 Jn 4.16).

The Vatican has announced a policy change allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples, as long as the blessings are not seen as a marriage. MSNBC

And Love comes in many and diverse expressions and the Bible does not say “God is heterosexual love” exclusively.  And a majority of thoughtful people (Catholics included) have made up their minds that homosexual love can be as real as heterosexual love and besides, “Who are we to judge?” as Pope Francis asked back in 2013. 

The Declaration called “Fiducia Supplicans” on “the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings” was signed by its new prefect, Cardinal Victor Manuel  Fernandez, the new head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.  Pope Francis signed off on it and is cited 20 times in the formal document.

The document is about blessings of which it distinguishes between descending ones (coming from God directly such as creation) and ascending ones (humans thanking and blessing God) and it acknowledges that blessing a gay couple combines both.

The Bay Area Catholic community reacts to the Vatican’s same-sex blessing. ABC7 News Bay Area

There are many caveats in the document about not confusing an informal blessing with a liturgical one, etc. etc.  And an admonition NOT to overly formalize or ritualize the blessing at hand.  Most gay couples I know would welcome that invite to creativity.

One issue left out is that priests offer a blessing in marriages and are witnesses to it but the couple themselves are the agents of the sacrament.  Marriage is a sacrament that couples bestow on one another.  Gay marriage is no different. 

Another lacuna is that, while creation is invoked nicely as one of the important blessings from the Creator, there is no reference to science that tells us that homosexuality is altogether natural for about 8-10% of any given human population.  Also, that 484 other species have gay and lesbian populations.

Indigenous people look to revive traditional LGBTQ terms and understanding. CBCSaskatchewan

There is no mention of the spiritual leadership that indigenous peoples the world over recognize in gay people. 

But it is a step forward and one welcomes how even church doctrines evolve as Saint Henry Newman wrote about 175 years ago.*  Science also evolves.  Praising Pope Francis for his courage, one also looks to further steps in the future as the word gets out that sexuality, itself a blessing, is diverse like so much else in creation.

*John Henry Newman, Essay on the Development of Doctrine.

See Matthew Fox, “The Spiritual Journey of the Homosexual…and Just About Everyone Else,” in Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, pp. 243-266.

And Fox, Original Blessing.

Banner Image: “Gay Marriage NYC, 2011” Photo by Jose Antonio Navas, on Flickr

Queries for Contemplation

What is your response to Pope Francis allowing blessings of gay unions?

Recommended Reading

Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life

In one of his foundational works, Fox engages with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets in profound and hard-hitting essays on such varied topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interfaith or Deep Ecumenism and more.

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

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8 thoughts on “Pope Francis Blesses Gay Unions”

  1. Avatar

    The church is slowly evolving as a Christian religion. It’s behind other Christian denominations and truly spiritual religions that recognize female priests/spiritual leaders/Shamans, and that every person is a Sacrament within our Beloved Source~Creator’s LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS COSMOS….

  2. Avatar

    Blessing same sex marriage is only a step, but it is a step in the right direction. Maybe too late for many. Barriers must be overcome & full acceptance must be realized.
    Kudos to Pope Francis. God bless him.

  3. Avatar

    This will likely make little difference in a religion that wants to be exclusive,
    and promote itself as Christian. Pope Francis recognizes the rejection many feel
    in the church these days, but this attempt to be more inclusive will be met with
    resistance and will be ignored by most in the Leonard Leo American Catholic
    Church of today. Most of Catholicism is very happy to remain forever in the
    18th century.

  4. Avatar

    Thank you Pope Francis, for once again being “a good guy”. I, too, wish the Catholic Church would be more like it’s leader, than against him!

  5. Avatar

    God we thank you for the Pope. Gay people deserve to be treated with love. Didn’t Jesus say…Love one another as I have loved you?

  6. Avatar

    It’s a tiny step. The fact that it’s so shocking is itself a statement about organized Christianity.

    The original Roman condemnation of gay MEN was based on its loathing, not of the sexual act itself, but of the act of ONE of the male partners being submissive/subordinate to the other. Gay females/lesbianism were ignored. Pedophilia was often tolerated or even condoned: a powerful, elite man demonstrated his “manliness” (domination) and privileged status by taking boys as (often unwilling) trophy-conquests. This is the attitude that permeated the society in which the New Testament was created.
    In other words, its condemnation of gay MEN was born from a desire to preserve, forever, the hierarchy of male dominance.
    Organized Christianity recreated that hierarchy.
    Males continue to protect their thrones.

    And all too often they proclaim some “enemies,” convenient “outsiders”, to target and blame for all the collective sins and fears of their self-righteous Christian clan. They stoke that hatred in order to artificially create a passionate collective pride (a protective in-group identity based on fear, hatred and exclusion), and stir up some old-fashioned fervor. Their group then protects and richly empowers them at the center of their vicious storm.

    Is this what Jesus wanted??

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