Hope for same-sex unions in the Catholic Church dashed.

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The Vatican said Monday that the Catholic Church would not bless same-sex unions, in a statement approved by Pope Francis that threatens to widen the chasm between the church and much of the LGBTQ community.

The decision was shared in a lengthy note on Monday, March 15, 2021. The Holy See, or Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, referred to homosexuality as a “choice,” suggested it is sinful and said it “cannot be recognized as objectively ordered” to God’s plans. The statement is one that is certain to upset and alienate millions of gay and lesbian Catholics around the world.

The statement shared, with Pope Francis’ blessing, is titled, ‘The Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex.’ On the question proposed, ‘Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?’ The answer is: Negative.

“The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit,” the Vatican’s top doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote in the statement. God “does not and cannot bless sin,” the statement added.

Pope Francis, who has frequently been praised for his welcoming tone towards LGBTQ people both within and outside the Church, approved the note. The Holy See is viewed as the central government of the Catholic Church.

‘Blessings belong to the category of the sacramentals, whereby the Church “calls us to praise God, encourages us to implore his protection, and exhorts us to seek his mercy by our holiness of life”. In addition, they “have been established as a kind of imitation of the sacraments, blessings are signs above all of spiritual effects that are achieved through the Church’s intercession”. Consequently, in order to conform with the nature of sacramentals, when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. Therefore, only those realities which are in themselves ordered to serve those ends are congruent with the essence of the blessing imparted by the Church.

The decision is certainly a setback for Catholics who had hoped the institution would modernize its approach to homosexuality. Dozens of countries, including many in western Europe, have legalized same-sex marriages, and the Church’s reticence to embrace LGBTQ people has long held the potential to alienate it from younger followers.

The statement says that gays and lesbians, as individuals, may receive a blessing if they live according to Church teaching. Blessing same-sex unions however, the Vatican said, would send a sign that the Catholic Church approves and encourages “a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God.”

Pope Francis has a huge social media following numbering 18.8M followers on twitter alone, posting the following tweet on March 14th, 2021.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Ontario and British Columbia in 2003. Quebec, the Yukon Territory, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and Labrador legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, and New Brunswick in 2005.

The federal Civil Marriage Act came into force on July 25th, 2005, making same-sex marriage legal across Canada. Canada became the fourth country to permit same-sex marriages, after the Netherlands (2000), Belgium (2003) and Spain (2005). Since then, all provinces in Canada have recognized same-sex marriages. Marriage itself falls under federal jurisdiction in Canada. But the provinces regulate the solemnization of marriage (the formal ceremony that is either civil or religious). They also grant marriage licenses. The Supreme Court has ruled that under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a religious official cannot be legally compelled to perform same-sex marriages if it is contrary to their religious beliefs.

“It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex,” the Vatican said.

 

In 2001, Statistics Canada began collecting information about same-sex partnerships. At that time, about 0.5 per cent of all Canadian couples reported living in same-sex unions.

The 2006 census was the first to collect data on legally married same-sex couples. It showed there were more than 45,000 declared same-sex couples in the country; 16.5 per cent of those were married.

By the time of the 2016 census, there were 72,880 declared same-sex couples — 0.9 per cent of the total number of couples. Of those same-sex couples, 33.4 per cent were married. That represents a tripling in the number of same-sex marriages across the country in a ten-year period.

Public support for same-sex marriage in Canada increased from 41 per cent in 1997 to 74 per cent in 2017, according to the polling firm CROP Inc. As of 2017, support was highest in Quebec (80 per cent) and lowest in Alberta (68 per cent). However, a survey conducted by Research Co. in 2019 found that overall support in Canada had slipped to 64 per cent; 15 per cent believed gay couples should be limited to civil unions, while 10 per cent felt they should not have “any kind of legal recognition.”

Superior Media has reached out to the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie for a statement, and will update article accordingly.