The Vatican Cardinals defend the ban on the blessing of the homosexual union amid dissent

ROM (AP) – Three cardinals close to Pope Francis recently defended a Holy See declaration that priests cannot bless same-sex unions as the Vatican has been totally opposed by some Catholic clergy and questions have been asked about the Pope’s approval of the document .

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican Lay Office, agreed on Thursday that a “blessing” is a sacramental act related to the sacrament of marriage taught by the Catholic Church and which can only be celebrated between men and women.

Farrell said that civil unions are not “marriages” as the Catholic Church understands the term, but he emphasized, “I want to insist that no one, no one should ever be excluded from the pastoral care and love and concern of the Church.”

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He spoke at a press conference celebrating Francis’ view of family life for a year, as articulated in a 2016 document entitled “The Joy of Love.”

Later on Thursday, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican Development Office, pointed out Francis’ pastoral commitment to gay men and lesbians, but reiterated the Church’s position.

“The Church has very clear doctrine about marriage that must be preached,” O’Malley said during an online panel discussion hosted by Georgetown University.

Their comments came amid ongoing criticism of the document released Monday by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin”.

In Austria, a group of dissident Catholic priests known as the Pastors Initiative or Pastors Initiative said they were “deeply appalled” by the new decree and would not obey it.

“This is a return to the times when we had hoped to come over with Pope Francis,” said the priests in Austria in a statement. “In solidarity with so many, we will not reject a loving couple in the future who asks to celebrate God’s blessing, which they experience every day, including in a church service.”

The group, which was founded by nine priests in 2006 and today claims 350 members “from the official Roman Catholic Church”, said the decree “discredits the liberating message of Jesus”.

A Belgian bishop, Antwerp Bishop Johan Bonny, apologized to the faithful on Wednesday for a “painful and incomprehensible” decision.

In Germany, the Bishop of Mainz, Peter Kohlgraf, expressed dismay at the position of the Vatican and took seriously the criticism he had heard from his flock. In a statement on his diocesan website, Kohlgraf said he stood by views he had expressed in writing last month that appeared to confirm various liturgical blessings for gay couples that some priests were already using.

“The blessing celebrations emerged from the pastoral accompaniment of those affected. Most of them are not formulas emulating church marriage, nor are they intended to develop a unified liturgy, ”he wrote. “No, I am not asking for any form of blessing that is similar to marriage. But I call for accompaniment – instead of judging. “

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The rollout of the document was unusual. The Vatican press office gave no advance notice that it would come out. The document itself states that Francis was only “informed and consented to publication”.

Other documents from the Vatican Orthodoxy Office have received much more authoritative confirmation from the Pope. For example, one released on June 24 on the validity of some baptisms said that Francis “approved these responses and ordered their publication.”
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David Rising contributed from Berlin.

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