God "cannot bless sin" said Vatican's doctrinal office.
The Vatican has ruled that the Catholic Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions, saying that God "does not and cannot bless sin."
The ruling, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), was welcomed by conservatives but has led to disappointment among gay Catholics around the world.
The CDF issued a formal reply to a question about whether Catholic clergy have the authority to bless gay unions. The two-page answer to the query, published in seven languages and approved by Pope Francis, was “negative.”
The ruling seeks to stamp out a practice beginning in some countries, including Germany and the US, of same-sex unions being blessed by parishes and ministers, in lieu of marriage.
The response was “not intended to be a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite” of the sacrament of marriage and the blessing associated with it, reports Reuters.
The statement argued that any sacramental recognition of same-sex unions could be confused with marriage.
The CDF issued a separate explanatory note, Reuters reports, stating that while the blessing of same-sex couples was "not licit," the decision “in no way detracts from the human and Christian consideration in which the Church holds each person.”
It also said that Church could bestow blessings “to individual persons with homosexual inclinations who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching."
Pope Francis has in the past indicated his support for providing gay couples with legal protections in same-sex unions, however this was in reference to the civil sphere, not within the church.
“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," the pontiff said during a 2019 interview with Mexican broadcaster Televisa.
The pope's comments, included in the documentary Francesco by director Evgeny Afineevsky, only came to light last October during the film's premiere in Rome.
“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” said the pope in the film. “I stood up for that.”
This comment is interpreted as a reference to when Pope Francis was archbishop of Buenos Aires and opposed efforts to legalise same-sex marriages but allegedly supported a form of legal protection for the rights of gay couples, as a way of blocking the "wholesale adoption of same-sex marriage in Argentina," according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).
The pope's stance was welcomed by the LGBTQ community however the Vatican later said the comments were taken out of context and did not indicate support for same-sex marriage.
The documentary also included a story about Pope Francis encouraging two Italian men in a same-sex relationship to introduce their three adopted children to their parish church "but to be ready for opposition," reports Reuters.
The pontiff's most famous remark in relation to gay people however was made in 2013 when he said: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"
The pope made the comment to reporters, on a flight returning to the Vatican from Brazil, in reply to a question about whether there was a "gay lobby" in the Vatican.
Traditional Catholic Church teaching considers homosexual acts “intrinsically disordered” and the church is opposed to gay marriage.
Photo Daniel Ibanez / CNA