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GLAAD STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO POPE FRANCIS’ UNPRECEDENTED MOVE TO FORMALLY ALLOW PRIESTS TO BLESS SAME-SEX COUPLES
- Last updated: December 18, 2023
GLAAD: “By removing barriers to priests blessing LGBTQ couples, the Pope accurately recognizes that LGBTQ people and our relationships are worthy of the same affirmation and support in the Church, and this strengthens couples in their faith and to the community. This is the latest in a historic pattern of actions and announcements from Pope Francis which show that LGBTQ people should not be used as a dividing issue, and we are worthy of love, respect and compassion.”
(Monday, December 18, 2023) GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to Pope Francis’ policy change allowing priests to bless same-sex unions, one of a series of recent statements and actions in support of LGBTQ people from the Pope.
In a document released by the Vatican today, the Pope elaborates on and confirms an expanded definition of “blessing” that clears the way for recognition of same-sex couples and that doing so should not require “exhaustive moral analysis”: “Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God. The request for a blessing, thus, expresses and nurtures openness to the transcendence, mercy, and closeness to God in a thousand concrete circumstances of life, which is no small thing in the world in which we live.”
The policy change stops short of allowing priests to perform marriage ceremonies or civil unions, but makes clear that blessings should not be denied outright to couples seeking them.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis responded:
“By removing barriers to priests blessing LGBTQ couples, the Pope accurately recognizes that LGBTQ people and our relationships are worthy of the same affirmation and support in the Church, and this strengthens couples in their faith and to the community. This is the latest in a historic pattern of actions and announcements from Pope Francis which show that LGBTQ people should not be used as a dividing issue, and we are worthy of love, respect and compassion.”
Pope Francis, who turned 87 on Sunday, has repeatedly urged acceptance of LGBTQ people and included them in conversations at the Vatican about how best to support LGBTQ people. Since the beginning of 2023, Pope Francis has:
- In January, the Pope said, “Homosexuality is not a crime,” calling laws in nearly 70 countries that criminalize same-sex relationships “unjust” and that treating other people uncharitably is a sin.
- In February, Pope Francis said to reporters that laws criminalizing LGBTQ people are a sin and an injustice because God loves LGBTQ people. Pope Francis made the remarks aboard a plane returning from Africa. The pope was joined by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Rt. Rev. Iain Greenshields, the Presbyterian moderator of the Church of Scotland, who both shared the pope’s sentiments. “The criminalization of homosexuality is a problem that cannot be ignored,” said Francis. He also repeated previous comments that parents should never throw their gay children out of the house.
- In August, Pope Francis spoke before hundreds of thousands of Catholic young people in Portugal and gave a speech that revolved around the theme: “Everyone is welcome in the Church.” He went on to lead youth in a chant of “Todos! Todos! Todos!”
- In October, the Pope met with several Catholic LGBTQ advocacy leaders, including DignityUSA and New Ways Ministry. Of note, Sister Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministry had previously faced reprimand by prior pope and bishops for ministering to LGBTQ Catholics. Sr. Jeannine Gramick was named “Newsmaker of 2023” by the National Catholic Reporter, whose year-end review highlighted Catholics on the margins.
- In October, the Pope responded to a formal list of questions, known as a “dubia” providing the opening for blessing same-sex unions.
- In October, the Pope urged recognition of transgender people and said they could be baptized in the Church, can serve as godparents, and be witnesses in weddings.
- In November, Pope Francis met in person with transgender women invited to join in the Vatican auditorium as Pope Francis’ guests for lunch to mark the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor.
- In November, Pope Francis removed anti-LGBTQ antagonists from their positions of privilege within the church hierarchy, including Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, whose fierce opposition to LGBTQ people and spreading of conspiracy theories about COVID-19 had divided his diocese, and Cardinal Raymond Burke who continually challenged Pope Francis’ policies and practices conserning LGBTQ people divorce by submitting dubia questions.
- Last year, the Pope urged parents of LGBTQ people to “accompany their children and not hide in an attitude of condemnation.”
ABOUT LGBTQ PEOPLE OF FAITH
In the U.S., 47% of LGBTQ people consider themselves religious. One in seven highly religious LGBTQ people are in a same-sex relationship.
According to a 2022 poll, majorities of all religious groups favor state laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodations. This includes support from a majority of Hispanic Catholics (80%), white Catholics (80%), and white Evangelical Protestants (60%).
A record high 71% of all Americans support marriage equality, according to Gallup, including 41% of weekly churchgoers.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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