Raising the expectations high?
In a position likely to be explained – if not taken back – at a later time, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, suggested he would be open to having the Roman Catholic Church bless same-sex couples, and/or people in it. This came as a response to a group of cardinals who asked him for clarity on the issue, and where he said that any request for a blessing should be treated with “pastoral charity”.
“We cannot be judges who only deny, reject and exclude,” he said, adding – however – that the church still considers same-sex relationships “objectively sinful” and so it would not recognize same-sex marriage.
In the Roman Catholic Church, a blessing – what may be requested by same-sex couples, as Pope Francis noted – is a prayer or plea usually delivered by a minister to ask God to look favorably on the person or people being blessed.
It is worth stressing that Pope Francis did not expressly identify what would be blessed – i.e. the unions, or the individual or group wanting to be blessed. Instead, he talked more generally of those asking for blessing, which he said should not be denied anyone.
He stressed that marriage to be an “exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman” and should avoid “any type of rite or sacramental that might contradict this conviction”.
All the same, “pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of blessing, requested by one or more persons, that do not convey a mistaken concept of marriage.”
In the end, Pope Francis stated that the Roman Catholic Church should approach its relationships with people with “kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness and encouragement”.