18 December 2023

In what is an initial – but nevertheless historically significant – step toward the celebration of committed relationships between persons of the same gender, today Pope Francis approved the blessing of couples in same-sex relationships.

While today’s declaration does not overturn a 2021 ruling by the Vatican that had prohibited blessings in liturgical settings, today’s statement (issued by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith) now permits ordained ministers in the Roman Catholic Church to bless same-sex unions by offering prayers (in non-liturgical settings) that request for a couple “peace, health, a spirit of patience, dialogue, and mutual assistance—but also God’s light and strength to be able to fulfill his will completely.”

CLGS applauds Pope Francis on this important pastoral affirmation of same-sex love and urges him to continue moving the Catholic Church forward – and quickly! – to a full recognition and honoring of such relationships as holy, life-giving, and a valuable gift to the world.

While today’s statement, we are told, is not to be misunderstood as a change in Roman Catholic teaching about the sacrament of marriage, the Center recalls the words of eminent historian John Boswell who wrote, thirty years ago, that “many—probably most—earlier Western societies institutionalized some form of romantic same-sex union” (Boswell, Same Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, p. 282).  In approving these blessings for couples in same-sex unions, the Vatican is, in fact, resurrecting a practice that has deep historical roots in Christian history.

At a time of increasing attacks upon LGBTQ+ persons, our relationships, our families, and even our faith communities, now is the time for all Christian denominations to recognize and celebrate loving same-sex relationships for what they are: outward signs of the Divine’s love and presence in our world today.

Bernard Schlager, PhD | Executive Director