Pope Francis allows priests to bless same-sex relationships

Pope Francis

Pope Francis approved blessings for same-sex couples on December 18, 2023. 

Photo credit: Tiziana Fabi | AFP

Vatican City,

The Vatican on Monday approved blessings for same-sex couples but insisted they must not be established as a Catholic rite nor given in contexts related to civil unions or weddings.

In a document approved by Pope Francis, the Vatican backed "the possibility of blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex".

"One should not prevent or prohibit the Church's closeness to people in every situation in which they might seek God's help through a simple blessing," it said.

But it does not change the Catholic Church's stance on same-sex marriages or unions. The Church insists marriage is only between a man and a woman, for the purpose of having children.

"This blessing should never be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them," the document stressed.

The head of the Vatican's faith department, which wrote the document, was quoted in an introduction as saying it was "a broadening and enrichment" of the Vatican's stance on blessings, "based on the pastoral vision of Pope Francis," who wants a Church open to all.

In 2021, the Vatican said the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions because God cannot "bless sin".

On Monday it upheld that line. "To avoid any form of confusion or scandal", blessings for same-sex couples cannot be "performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding".

"Such a blessing may instead find its place in other contexts, such as a visit to a shrine, a meeting with a priest, a prayer recited in a group, or during a pilgrimage," it said.