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CBCP issues statement on Vatican’s decision to allow blessings for same-sex couples

By Melanie Uson Published Dec 20, 2023 3:06 pm

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued a statement in line with Vatican’s decision to bless same-sex couples, reiterating that the ruling is merely a "blessing of mercy" and should not be confused with the Church's teachings on the Sacrament of Marriage. 

Approved by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP's statement released on Tuesday, Dec. 19 talked about the Vatican’s recent Fiducia supplicans ruling recently approved by Pope Francis, which allows the Church to bless Catholic couples in irregular situations such as unmarried couples, divorcees, and those in same-sex relationships. 

The CBCP addressed the ruling by explaining the pastoral meanings of blessings, which they defined as an “invocation to God, a request to God to exercise His power on a person or a thing” for two purposes—one to dispel the evil, and another to sanctify or "make a person or a thing holy."

They said that the decision added another purpose to it, which makes it a "blessing of mercy"—"for pity and for remedy."

“When a Catholic priest prays a blessing of mercy on a couple in an irregular situation, who ‘desire to entrust themselves to the Lord and his mercy, to invoke his help, and to be guided to a greater understanding of his plan of love and of truth’ (no. 30), he is asking God to have pity on both of them and to give them the grace of conversion so that they can regularize their relationships,” the statement read. 

Like the Vatican, CBCP reiterated that this should not be confused with sanctification in Catholic marriage, as it is "not conformed to God’s will, as expressed in the teachings of the Church."

“Priests who are invited to bless couples in irregular situations should choose the appropriate words to reveal this intent of the Church,” it added. 

The Vatican on Tuesday, Dec. 19 (Philippine time) authorized blessings for same-sex couples as long as they are not in contexts related to civil unions or weddings.

The decision stated that this blessing must "not be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding” to avoid confusion and “scandal.” 

"Such a blessing may instead find its place in other contexts, such as a visit to a shrine, a meeting with a priest, a prayer recited in a group, or during a pilgrimage," it added.

"One should not prevent or prohibit the Church's closeness to people in every situation in which they might seek God's help through a simple blessing," the ruling said. The move has been deemed a “game changer” as this is the first time that the Catholic Church opened a way to same-sex relationships and their blessing, which have been strongly opposed by traditional and conservative believers. (with reports from AFP)