Pope approves blessings for same-sex couples with landmark ruling

The radical change in Vatican policy states that people seeking God’s love should not be subjected to “an exhaustive moral analysis” to receive it.

Photograph of Pope Francis who recently declared priests can bless same-sex couples.
Image: X @drhossamsamy6

In an official ruling approved by Pope Francis on Monday, December 18, Roman Catholic priests can now administer blessings to same-sex couples.

The news was announced as part of an 11-page document from the Vatican’s doctrinal office outlining the change titled “Blessings of Couples in Irregular Situations and of Couples of the Same sex”.

Catholic priests typically offer blessings and prayers to church members for a variety of reasons, but prior to this declaration, the Vatican had said that same-sex couples should not be offered blessings from bishops, priests or deacons. The radical change in Vatican policy states that people seeking God’s love should not be subjected to “an exhaustive moral analysis” to receive it.

The document states that priests can decide to bless couples on a case-by-case basis. It delineates specific conditions that will be in place, including that the blessing of LGBTQ+ couples will not include regular Church rituals or liturgies. It also says the blessings will not validate the status of the couple’s marriage.


The document expands upon a letter Pope Francis sent to two conservative cardinals in October, which shared that blessings could be offered under some circumstances, and it comes with a lot of stipulations.

According to the Vatican, the blessing rituals are not to be confused with the sacrament of marriage which the church claims should be between a man and a woman, and the blessings are not supposed to take place during a civil union or even while the couple is wearing wedding attire.

LGBTQ+ Catholics and church leaders are welcoming the news. Rev. James Martin said it is a major step forward in the church’s ministry to LGBTQ+ people and recognises that Catholic same-sex couples desire God’s help in their committed and loving relationships. He said, “Along with many priests, I will now be delighted to bless my friends in same-sex unions.”


Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has worked to make the Catholic Church more inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples. While he still has a long way to go since the Church still teaches its members that homosexual relationships are sinful, this concrete step represents “a real development” in church doctrine.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis welcomed a group of transgender women to dinner at the Vatican, and approved a document from Cardinal Fernández’s department which allows transgender people to be baptised, become godparents, and serve as a witness at church weddings.

Pope Francis has also officially condemned Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip and declared the massacre of Palestinian civilians as terrorism.

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