LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Vatican said on Monday that priests cannot bless same-sex unions, disappointing LGBT+ Catholics who had hoped that the Church was becoming more open under Pope Francis, who has previously said he could not judge gay people.
The ruling was issued by the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in response to questions from a number of dioceses as to whether ministers were allowed to bless same-sex unions.
In some countries, including the United States and Germany, parishes and ministers had begun giving blessings, in lieu of marriage, which had alarmed conservatives in the 1.3 billion-member Church.
Here is a timeline of Pope Francis and the Vatican’s major statements on LGBT+ issues:
2010 - As the head of the Catholic Church in Argentina, the Pope, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, said gay marriage was “a strategy to destroy God’s plan”, as he unsuccessfully urged lawmakers to vote against legalising it.
He expressed particular concern about the bill allowing same-sex couples to adopt, saying it was important to ensure that children had “both a father and a mother” as role models.
2013 - “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” Pope Francis said in a conversion with journalists on his first trip abroad, months after being elected in March.
He said gay people should not be discriminated against and that being gay itself was not a sin, but reaffirmed Catholic teaching that same-sex acts are sinful.
2016 - The Catholic Church should apologise to gay people and Christians should seek forgiveness from them for the way they have been treated, the Pope told journalists aboard the papal plane.
2016 - During a trip to Georgia, Pope Francis said gender theory was part of a “global war” on marriage.
He later described how he invited a transgender man who had been rejected by his local priest to the Vatican, but added that teaching gender theory in schools was a form of “ideological colonisation”.
2018 - A Chilean man who was sexually abused by a priest said Pope Francis told him in a private conversation that God had made him gay and loved him that way.
June 2019 - The Vatican condemned gender theory as an attempt to “annihilate nature” in an “instruction” to Catholic educators that was not signed by Pope Francis, but quoted his speeches and teachings and those of previous popes.
November 2019 - Pope Francis said at an international conference that politicians who rage against gay people, gypsies and Jews reminded him of Hitler.
December 2019 - Gay priests should be celibate or leave the priesthood, Pope Francis said in an interview published in a book, adding that homosexuality “is something that worries me”.
2020 - The Pope said same-sex couples should be protected by civil union laws in a documentary, “Francesco”, about his life and teachings.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” he said.
Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.