PSR and our Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) jointly applaud Pope Francis’s statement approving the blessing of same-sex relationships. This is a historic and significant step toward the celebration of committed relationships between same-sex couples. A step we hope is the first of many from the Vatican in the movement towards full acceptance and inclusion of our LGBTQ+ Catholic family.
The statement, issued by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, permits ordained ministers in the Roman Catholic Church to offer a blessing for two people in a relationship who request one — even if their situation is ‘irregular.’ Ministers can now ask that the individuals have “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.” This decision reverses a ruling by the Vatican that prohibited such blessings just two years ago.
Though the Vatican made it clear that their statement shouldn’t be misunderstood as a change in Roman Catholic teaching about the sacrament of (heterosexual) marriage, in approving these blessings for same-sex unions, it is resurrecting a practice that has deep historical roots in Christian history. The eminent historian John Boswell wrote in Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe that “many—probably most—earlier Western societies institutionalized some form of romantic same-sex union.”
“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,” said Dr. Bernard Schlager, CLGS’s executive director.
“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,” Schlager urged.
The Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion at PSR is the country’s oldest seminary-based LGBTQ center in the country. Its mission is to advance the well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community and to take a leading role in shaping a new public discourse on religion, gender identity, and sexuality through education, research, community building, and advocacy. Their newly launched Queer and Catholic Oral History Project is one of the first centralized oral history repositories dedicated solely to the queer Catholic experience.