Flemish Roman Catholic bishops issued a document Tuesday allowing the church to hold blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions, in defiance of the Vatican’s ruling in March 2021.
The bishops of Flanders, the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, posted the document titled, “Being pastorally close to homosexual persons — For a welcoming Church that excludes no one,” on the Bishops’ Conference of Belgium website, which suggests a ritual for same-sex unions, including prayers and Scripture readings in order for the couple to “express before God how they are committed to one another,” the Catholic News Agency reported.
The document also announced that each diocese will appoint a person to give “explicit attention to the situation of homosexual persons, their parents and families in the conduct of policy,” the Catholic News Agency reported.
Cardinal Jozef De Kesel and Dutch-speaking bishops in Belgium approve liturgy for blessings of same-sex couples. A big move given the Vatican’s doctrine office issued a ruling against same-sex blessings last year. Via @HendroM https://t.co/b07mKG2F5z
— Christopher Lamb (@ctrlamb) September 20, 2022
The new order defies the Vatican’s ruling in March 2021, in which it stated the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions, as Catholic teaching holds that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law.” The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded to a question on whether the church can bless gay unions, saying, “Negative.” The Vatican further noted that God “does not and cannot bless sin.”
“The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is not therefore, and is not intended to be, a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them,” the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith said.
The Catholic Church has long affirmed that marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman with the intention of procreating and educating new human life.
“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament,” the Church teaching states, according to the Catholic Diocese of Dallas’ website.
Pope Francis appeared to support a civil union law for same-sex couples in the October 2020 documentary, “Francesco,” created by the gay, Russian-born director Evgeny Afineevsky. The statements came from a 2019 interview with Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki. (RELATED: Pope Francis Tells Parents To ‘Not Condemn’ Their Gay Kids)
“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family,” the pope reportedly said in the documentary. “Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it … What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that,” he allegedly continued.
The Catholic News Agency, however, reported that several segments of the documentary were “heavily edited,” suggesting the pope may not truly support civil unions. In his 2016 encyclical Amoris Laetitia, Francis wrote “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”