Does the Catholic Church now allow same-sex unions?

Does the Catholic Church now allow same-sex unions? December 21, 2023

As a Catholic priest, I am asked to give people a blessing all the time.  “Father, we are travelling this week, please give us a blessing,” or “Father, my son is having a hard time at school, could you give him a blessing.” To give a blessing is to invoke God’s presence and grace in the life of a person, so that God can provide wisdom, strength and guidance.

When I visit the hospital, it is not uncommon to have a non-Catholic who sees me dressed as a priest ask me for a blessing, or request that I visit a sick relative.  Since the sick person is not Catholic, I give the person a blessing – only if the person is Catholic do I perform the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, since this is a liturgical act reserved for those baptized Catholic.  There is a clear distinction here: the act of giving a blessing to someone regardless of his or her background, belief, or state of life, versus the celebration of a Sacrament of the Church for a baptized Catholic who is allowed to receive the Sacraments of the Church.

Enter Fiducia Supplicans, a document published by the Dicastry for the Doctrine of the Faith which has resounded throughout the news media for the last couple of days.  The distinction this document makes is similar to my distinction between blessing a sick person versus offering the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  One is a pastoral act that invokes God’s help, the other a liturgical act of the Church reserved for those who are able to receive it.

Fiducia Supplicans reminds us that all people, regardless of their state of life, are able to receive a spontaneous blessing when requested.  These blessings are imparted to help the person grow in his or her relationship with God, to desire greater holiness, or to ask for strength in a difficult time.  A blessing does not inquire about nor require examination of a person’s moral character or standing.  A blessing is available to all.

Fiducia Supplicans also makes it clear that the Sacrament of Marriage as a liturgical act of the Church, is reserved to a union between a man and a woman.  The Catholic Church has not sanctioned same sex unions or marriages, nor made any change or amendment to the theology or Catholic understanding of marriage.  It has said that all people can receive a blessing from a priest, including those in irregular unions – but not all can receive the Sacrament of Marriage.

As a priest, some of the faithful approach in the communion line to receive a blessing because something in their lives keeps them from receiving the Eucharist.  As a priest, I give them a blessing without inquiring “why” they are not receiving the Eucharist.  If a mass murderer asks for a blessing, I have no qualms in giving him a blessing – probably one that calls for conversion and repentance.  A blessing does not condone or celebrate the sin in someone’s life.

I pray people read the actual document rather than rely on reports from the media.  Some celebrate this document as if it has allowed the Catholic Church to embrace same sex unions, others are very upset because they think the Church has given into modern times.  Neither is true.

It has been my experience these past few days that most priests consider that this document describes current practice in the Church.  A priest blesses people who request a blessing, and only performs the Sacrament of Marriage for unions of a man and a woman.  Why did this document get written then?  Allow me to speculate.  Perhaps to call to task the German Bishops who are calling for the Church to establish a liturgical act to bless same sex unions – Fiducia Supplicans makes it clear this cannot happen.  Perhaps to call to task priests who refuse a blessing to particular people due to their sins or struggles; reminding them that God’s grace is available to all those who approach Him.

To answer the question posed by the title of this post: no.  The Catholic Church does not allow nor approve of same-sex unions now.  The Catholic Church allows for all individuals to receive a blessing from God, and the Sacrament of Marriage is reserved to a union between a man and a woman.

We pray for unity in the Church and for openness to greater understanding of one another.  We pray that forces from outside the Church may be cast aside, so that the light of Christ may prevail, a light that reminds us that He offers salvation and blessing equally to all people, calling each one of us to daily conversion.

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