Pope Francis Suggests Catholic Church Could 'Bless' Same-Sex Unions
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In a new statement from the Vatican, Pope Francis has suggested there could be ways for the Roman Catholic Church to bless same-sex unions – a declaration that marks a reversal from the Vatican's current official position.
On Monday, the Vatican published a letter Francis wrote responding to five conservative cardinals who challenged him to affirm church teaching against homosexuality ahead of a big meeting that will address how to include LGBTQ+ Catholics.
In his new letter, Francis reiterated that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and that the Catholic church "avoids any kind of rite…that could…imply that something which is not marriage is recognized as marriage."
However, he softened the Vatican's position by arguing that the church should not "lose pastoral charity, which must be part of all our decisions and attitudes."
"For this reason, pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of benediction, requested by one or more persons, that do not transmit a mistaken conception of marriage," Francis wrote in the letter, according to a translation from The Associated Press. "Because when a benediction is requested, it is expressing a request for help from God, a plea to be able to live better, a trust in a father who can help us to live better."
He did note that there are situations that are objectively "not morally acceptable."
The Vatican's current official position is that the Church cannot bless same-sex unions because because "God cannot bless sin."
His letter adds that blessing same-sex unions should become an unofficial practice, saying there would be no need for dioceses or bishops conferences to turn such "pastoral charity" into a fixed protocol.
Francis' letter was a reply to a letter from conservative leaders, including U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke and Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, who challenged the Pope on issues like homosexuality and women's ordination. The five conservative cardinals pressed Pope Francis in July sending him a list of five questions or dubia.
Dubia are questions brought before the pope and the appropriate Vatican office that seek a "yes" or "no" response to clarify disputed matters of Catholic teaching and practice, Catholic News Agency explains.
However, Pope Francis did not initially respond with the customary yes or no. The group rewrote the questions in August and asked him to respond yes or no.
When he didn't, the cardinals decided to make the texts public and issue a "notification" warning.
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