Will the Catholic Church be open to same-sex unions soon?
Pope Francis suggested that Catholic priests could possibly bless same-sex couples, noting that it could only happen on a case-by-case basis.
According to CNN International, he responded to a letter containing formal questions about his Church leadership from five conservative cardinals in Asia, Europe, Africa, the United States, and Latin America. One of the questions revolved around his "intention to bless same-sex unions" in the future.
As translated to English by Vatican News, the 86-year-old pontiff said the Church "has a very clear understanding of marriage: an exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to procreation." He, however, also highlighted the importance of "pastoral charity," which he said should permeate "all our decisions and attitudes."
"The defense of objective truth is not the only expression of this charity; it also includes kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement. Therefore, we cannot be judges who only deny, reject, and exclude," he said.
For the Pope, requests for blessings in marriage are expressing a "plea to God for help, a supplication to live better, a trust in a Father who can help us live better."
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBTQ+ Catholics, said the letter "significantly advances" efforts to make LGBTQ+ Catholics feel welcome in the Church.
"The allowance for pastoral ministers to bless same-gender couples implies that the church does indeed recognize that holy love can exist between same-gender couples, and the love of these couples mirrors the love of God," he said in a statement.
The Vatican published the Pope's responses on Monday, Oct. 2 after the five cardinals unilaterally disclosed their initiative, saying they were not satisfied with the head's answers in the written exchange that took place in July.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in an explanatory note in 2021 that it could not condone same-sex unions because “God cannot bless sin."