Pope Francis has officially approved that Catholic priests bless the marriage of same-sex couples, a radical shift in policy aimed at making the church more inclusive. Pope Francis approved a document issued by the Vatican announcing the change on Monday, claiming this should be a sign that “God welcomes all.”
Monday’s eight-page document, whose subtitle is “On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings”, spelled out specific situations. An 11-point section was titled “Blessings of Couples in Irregular Situations and of Couples of the Same sex”.
Introducing the text, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the prefect of the Church, said that the new declaration remained “firm on the traditional doctrine of the Church about marriage”.
“In keeping with the Pope’s “pastoral vision” of “broadening” the appeal of the Catholic Church, the new guidelines would allow priests to bless relationships still considered sinful. People receiving a blessing “should not be required to have prior moral perfection,” Fernández added, according to BBC News.
The Church has come under fire for such new development, with many condemning the pope for blessing what God calls sin.
This is coming few weeks after Pope Francis hosted a group of transgender women in the Vatican, in his bid to deepen an unlikely relationship that has come to underline his drive to make the Catholic Church more inclusive for the LGBTQ community.
‘This is a fantastic opportunity for us transexuals,’ said Claudia Victoria Salas, 55, a transgender tailor and cleaner originally from Argentina who was seated opposite the pope during the event. ‘I send the Pope a big kiss!’ she added.
This is not the first time the Pope has worked to open the Church to the LGBTQ+ community.
Since Francis became the Catholic Pope in 2013, the Argentine has sought to take the Church in a more inclusive direction. In January, Francis called on Catholic bishops to welcome LGBTQ+ people and criticized laws criminalizing homosexuality.
Recall that the church’s doctrinal office in the Vatican recently declared last month that transgender people can be baptized, serve as godparents, act as witnesses to religious weddings, and also receive same-sex blessings.
Earlier last month, the Pope fired a Texan Bishop, Joseph Strickland, a fierce critic who has questioned his leadership and decisions to allow gays and transgenders in the Catholic Church. Bishop Strickland is one of the leading voices opposed to the Pope’s reforms.