The Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin,” the Vatican decreed on Monday.
The decree comes in a two-page explanation from the Vatican’s orthodoxy office in response to a question over whether Catholic clergy can bless gay unions.
The response, approved by Pope Francis, noted a “fundamental and decisive distinction” between gay individuals and gay unions, saying that “the negative judgment on the blessing of unions of persons of the same sex does not imply a judgment on persons.”
Gay people must be treated with dignity and respect, the decree said, upholding the church’s welcoming and blessing of gay people. However, it said that their unions could not be blessed as any such sacramental recognition could be confused with marriage, which is a lifelong union between a man and a woman intended for the sake of creating new life.
Gay sex is “intrinsically disordered,” the decree says, noting that any union that involves sexual activity outside of marriage can’t be blessed as it is not “ordered to both receive and express the good that is pronounced and given by the blessing.”
“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, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan,” the response said.
God “does not and cannot bless sin: He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him,” it said.
The Vatican’s decree comes in response to questions raised by Francis’ comments in a documentary last year in which he called for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples.
“Homosexuals have a right to be part of the family,” he said in Francesco, a documentary about his life. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
However, Francis’ comments were in reference to civil unions and did not condone those unions within the church.