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Catholic priests can now bless same-sex couples, with a big caveat

Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from his window, at the Vatican, December 17, 2023.

Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from his window, at the Vatican, December 17, 2023.

REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

The Vatican on Monday announced that Pope Francis has granted formal approval for Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples – but it must be clear that such blessings are not part of the ritual of marriage or in connection with a civil union.


The new guidance marks yet another departure from long-standing Vatican policy under Pope Francis, who has taken a number of steps to make the Roman Catholic Church and its 1.3 billion members more tolerant toward the LGBTQ community.

As he pushes for more progressive policies, Pope Francis has often clashed with the more conservative wing of the Catholic Church – particularly in the US. In August, the Pope ripped into what he described as the “backward” attitude of conservative American Catholics.

The Catholic Church is not the only Christian institution facing divisions over issues pertaining to the LGBTQ community. A quarter of the United Methodist Church’s congregations in the US – primarily conservative-learning churches – have left the denomination amid debates surrounding its LGBTQ policies. The massive exodus from the United Methodist Church comes as many more liberal congregations ignore the denomination’s official ban on same-sex marriage and on openly LGBTQ clergy.

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