The Vatican has announced that the Roman Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex marriages, no matter how stable couples’ relationships are.
The statement, approved by Pope Francis, will only aid in further alienating the LGBTQ community from the Catholic faith.
The decree, issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on March 15, states, “It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage.”
The Vatican insists same-sex marriages are not part of God’s plan for families and raising children.
“The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing,” the statement said.
The new decree states that a priest can bless a person who happens to be gay, but they must “manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching.”
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, there are approximately 3 million African American Catholics, roughly 4% of the nation’s 69 million Catholics.
The US-based Pew Research Center reports that Africa has the fastest-growing Catholic population globally, while Western Europe has become one of the world’s most secular regions. The center predicts that more than four in 10 Christians will be in sub-Saharan Africa by 2060.
Last year, Pope Francis ignited the flames of hope when he declared that homosexuals are “part of the family” and that same-sex and other nontraditional couples need a “civil union law.”
This week’s statement from the Vatican all but extinguished that optimism.
“The reason there has been such tension between LGBTQ people and institutional religious groups has not been because LGBTQ people are not religious,” Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the LGBTQ-affirming New Ways Ministry, told CBS News, “but because faith groups have vilified them and excluded them.” He added, “I have seen an enormous number of LGBTQ people whose faith and religious identity are so strong that they continue to push for acceptance even against mammoth walls of opposition.”