The Catholic Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions, the Vatican has said, because it is “impossible for God to bless sin”.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) made the statement on Monday. However, at the same time it did note the “positive elements” in same-sex relationships.
On Monday, Pope Francis approved the response by the CDF, saying it was “not intended to be a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite”.
In October, he said that he thought same-sex couples should be allowed to have “civil unions”, and in 2013, he famously said: “Who am I to judge gay people?”
Last year the pontiff said that “homosexual people are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it”.
The Vatican later attempted to clarify Pope Francis’ comments saying they were taken out of context and did not indicate support for same-sex marriage.
Some Catholic parishes in recent months, including in Germany and the US, have started giving blessings to people in same-sex relationships as a way to welcome gay Catholics to the church, Reuters news agency reported.
But the CDF noted that marriage between a man and a woman is sacrament and therefore blessings cannot be extended to same-sex couples.
“For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex,” it said.
In defiant response, people posted photos from their same-sex weddings – including Chasten Buttigieg, husband of 2020 US presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
Progressive Catholic groups also expressed their concern at the Vatican’s declaration.
Charlotte Clymer, from Catholics for Choice, tweeted: “Being LGBTQ is not a choice. LGBTQ people are wonderfully made by God. We are born this way and perfectly so, regardless of what the Vatican or any other religious authority might claim.”
And Francis DeBernardo, executive director of gay Catholic group New Ways Ministry, said the Vatican’s statement was “not surprising, but still disappointing”.