Pope Francis: Catholic priests can’t bless ‘illicit, sinful’ gay marriages

Pope Francis holds a mass to mark 500 years of Christianity in t

Whenever there’s a story about a religious figure or institution making an anti-LGBTQ pronouncement, it feels so dated, like it’s such a throwback to a different time. LGBTQ rights, visibility, acceptance and inclusion have come so far so fast. Twenty years ago, I never thought we’d be where we are now, with national gay marriage rights in America and across Europe, with trans visibility and trans rights in the national spotlight. So… it’s not really a matter of the Vatican fundamentally changing the modern LGBTQ conversations. It’s mostly about the Vatican looking dangerously out-of-touch on an issue which they should realize is fait accompli.

Pope Francis has invited LGBT advocates to the Vatican. He has spoken warmly about the place of gay people in the church. He has called for national laws for same-sex civil unions. But Monday, Francis definitively signaled the limits to his reformist intentions, signing off on a Vatican decree that reaffirms old church teaching and bars priests from blessing same-sex unions.

The pronouncement, issued at a time when some clerics were interested in performing such blessings, leans on the kind of language that LGBT Catholics have long found alienating — and that they had hoped Francis might change. It says that same-sex unions are “not ordered to the Creator’s plan.” It says acknowledging those unions is “illicit.” It says that God “cannot bless sin.”

The decree shows how Francis, rather than revolutionizing the church’s stance toward gays, has taken a far more complicated approach, speaking in welcoming terms while maintaining the official teaching. That leaves gay Catholics wondering about their place within the faith, when the catechism calls homosexual acts “disordered” but the pontiff says, “Who am I to judge?”

Francis “has extended a warmer welcome than any of his predecessors have done,” said Patrick Hornbeck, a Fordham University professor of theology who is gay, married and Episcopalian. “But today’s statement shows that his hospitality has limits.”

Few who have carefully followed Francis’s words expected him to dramatically alter the church’s stance on LGBT matters. Many times, he has stated his opposition to same-sex marriage. Officially, the church says that sex should be between a man and a woman, for the purpose of procreation. Changing any part of that would also prompt a reconsideration of other church positions, whether on gender or contraception.

Though the Vatican did not specify what prompted the decree, it was written in response to existing doctrinal questions. Some Vatican watchers speculated that the church might be responding directly to bishops in Germany, who are in the middle of a multiyear series of meetings — to the alarm of conservatives — aimed at reevaluating major aspects of the church, including sexuality and the role of women.

[From WaPo]

Apparently there were a significant number of German priests – and I would imagine priests of other nationalities – who were trying to bless gay couples who were married or had some kind of civil union. Pope Francis says NOPE, can’t do that. While it’s abhorrent, I actually understand the needle Francis is trying to thread here – he’s saying that on a person level, LGBTQ peeps are our brothers and sisters and we should love them and accept them and who is he to judge? At the same time he’s maintaining the Church’s position that it’s their official job to judge LGBTQ folks as sinful, illicit and not recognize their marriages. It’s such a throwback – we’ve outgrown this position. The Church is out of touch.

Here are some reactions from celebrities.

Pope Francis holds a mass to mark 500 years of Christianity in t

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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72 Responses to “Pope Francis: Catholic priests can’t bless ‘illicit, sinful’ gay marriages”

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  1. Midge says:

    Yeah the Catholic church should STFU about what type of sex is sinful. #hypocrites #pedophiles

    • Aphra says:

      A painful and truthful comment.

    • Tiffany says:

      I mean……

      I really am looking for the lie here and just can’t find it.

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s the overwhelming majority of the responses I’m seeing, so this truly was a major fail on their part. Not only is it cruel and out of touch, but now everyone is like “Oh really? YOU want to talk about sin and sexuality? YOU?!”

    • vlah says:

      Just watched “the Keepers” on netflix. If someone is sill catholic in 2021…they are mired in Q’s worst nightmare…an actual pedo cult….

    • SM says:

      That’s my thinking as well. Fine, I will accept that the Church may have some stance on sex and they have the right to think and judge whether they think corresponds to their dogma. But not until they adress the sex crimes in the Church. That’s one. The second step is to get out of citizen’s bedrooms and stop preaching about contraception, protection and reproduction to those who are not part of the Church. In short, respect the boundary between the state and the Church. Then they can explain whom and what they can not bless in their own Church.

    • AnnaKist says:

      Like the BRF, this is an organisation that needs dismantling. What a fkng cheek.

    • GrnieWnie says:

      yup call me crazy but I think the institution has spent far too long ruminating publicly on gay marriage/premarital sex and – bafflingly – far too little on its own inability to change and begin PROTECTING the people within their institutional fold who need it most: the WOMEN and CHILDREN raped by priests (gay rape? pre-marital rape? Obviously these are not things, but you get my point about flawed logic here. If consensual gay/premarital sex is bad, what on earth is the underage/rape version? The institution saturated in criminal acts around sex is claiming the moral authority to define when sex=sin. It can’t even identify when sex is a criminal act of rape so gfy now, thanks). I don’t want to hear one thing out of this institution until it tells us it will CEASE moving pedophile priests around. As far as I’m concerned, every last rapist priest should be hunted down to stand criminal trial and the church should enable the prosecution at every turn. Otherwise, stfu forever.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Exactly. When I lived in Guam (this was in the past ten years) I watched as hundreds and hundreds of people came forward about the archbishop and priests sexually abusing them as children. No one ever went to jail or court for this abuse. The archbishop fled to the Vatican which has shielded him from prosecution. He did get replaced as archbishop and the local church went bankrupt trying to pay off the claimants of abuse. It is vile. The church that is still protecting pedophiles can take a seat on LGBTQ issues.

  2. milliemollie says:

    Instead of spreading hate (we all know that what Jesus was all about…), the Catholic Church should do something about priests sexually abusing children.

    • sunny says:

      This! This is such an ugly look for the church and basically this hatefulness is the opposite of everything Jesus believed. *Insert side-eye at the Church*

  3. Tiffany says:

    Yeah, His Eminence should have stayed out if this one and just sat there and ate his food.

  4. Myra says:

    As a fallen catholic and an agnostic, I cannot say that I am surprised by the vatican’s stance. I am however surprised that the decree had to be made to begin with. It sends out a dangerous message. There was some progress in ensuring that the catholic church was more embracing of others or contribute less towards toxic messages against LGBT. I guess the old guards at the vatican are still pushing their hateful agenda.

    • Mac says:

      Much like the BRF, the Catholic Church is inert to change.

    • Julia K says:

      Myra, I would not consider you a “fallen” Catholic. Enlightened perhaps. Willing to question.

      • Petrichor says:

        My formerly Catholic friends and I have always called ourselves “recovering Catholics.” Because when you’re raised in the institution and culture, it can feel like you’re always in the process of shaking it.

  5. Nev says:


    Thank you for reinforcing the fears and shame of those who are or were raised Catholic to remain closeted. Good move. Ugh.

  6. Astrid says:

    I don’t see the catholic church failing any time soon. However, they’re hemorrhaging people and sticking to old stupid ways. This can’t go on forever.

    • Jesma says:

      I think the assumption is that the whole world is as progressive as the U.S. and Europe. That is honestly not the case. There are many countries where homosexuality is a crime and many others where it is taboo. Probably half or more Catholics come from countries that have less than favorable views on the LGBTQ. I’m LatinX and the homophobia is real. It is very overt and in your face. My husband is Caribbean and the homophobia there might be even more intense than in Latin America.

      If tomorrow the Vatican sanctioned gay marriage there would be a bleeding of Catholics from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. This current stance is safest for the Pope. It keeps the majority of Catholics happy, and the liberal practicing ones will just grumble and hope for eventual change. They have weathered 2000 years and various scandals while maintaining over a billion members. Everything they do is strategic.

      • Ashley says:

        Jesma, exactly. I’m ex-Catholic and completely agree. I think he’s much more progressive than it seems, but he’s baby stepping the Catholic world forward. Getting people to accept gays is, from what I can see, the first and only step he can take. Cultural change takes hundreds of years.

      • Malificent says:

        Also agree. I think Pope Francis is personally much more open, but he knows that large parts of the Catholic world, as well as factions in the church hierarchy, do not share his views. Whenever he has made welcoming comments about the queer community, some papal office inevitably issues an explanation that the Pope’s comment was “misunderstood”. I think the Pope is trying to nudge the church forward on this issue without completely alienating large chunks of the base.

      • GrnieWnie says:

        @Ashley I disagree. Cultural change is intergenerational (not hundreds of years), and it can also happen very quickly. The problem is this particular institution and its inability to innovate–much like the monarchy, it defines itself in its constancy/unyielding nature. So, it is now functionally obsolete in the Western world.

      • Eleonora says:

        Yes, true.
        While the first countries to have gay marriage were in Europe, there are also European countries with lots of people against it.

        Like Poland, which unsurprisingly, has a lot of Catholics.

  7. Eleonor says:

    I grew up in Italy, I was raised by catholics (now I am agnostic), and if you have ever thought the Pope (no matter which one) was going to change something about LGBTQ+…you are definetly wrong.
    The Church is like the Royal Family: they DO NOT change, and they have been around for 2000 years, so they know a thing or two about maintining an outdated institution.

    • Merricat says:

      Like the royal family, Catholicism will continue to lose supporters; the institutions will not change, but people have.

      • Eleonor says:

        Oh no.
        They have been around for 2000 years, unlike the RF, they know a thing or two about how to sell their products.
        For example I have never ever liked this Pope , because I thought it was a good marketing move, when some years ago it was reported he was welcoming gay families and all the world was cheering, I went to read the full quote, and it wasn’t a welcome or whatsoever. But je made huge headlines.

      • Mac says:

        The BRF have existed for 1,000 years so they, too, know plenty about maintaining an outdated institution. The question is why either institution wants to be an anachronism.

    • Seraphina says:

      Eleonor, you are very correct in stating the Catholic church will not change their position on this subject. I do not know where they stand on acceptance though and not blessing the union of same sex couples. The bottom line is they are sticking to what they interpret the Bible to say – whether it’s about abortion, marriage or anything else.

  8. Tom says:

    These people only have power over you if you give it to them. You do not need them to access God or the Word.

    • Neners says:

      Amen! Seriously, nothing else to add. This is perfectly stated.

    • Seraphina says:

      Tom, this is very true. And you bring up a great point that we do not need them to access God or the Word. Organized religion has been used to control the masses. Now, the question becomes, do we turn away from God and the Word due to their human folly or do we take that as a lesson and build on that for greater understanding.

      • Regina Falangie says:

        God is not only found in church. God is everywhere and loves and celebrates you exactly the way He made you. Being LGBTQ is exactly how He made you and it’s exactly right and beautiful. I don’t belong or attend church, I don’t need to, I have a strong relationship with God. He is always with me, loving me and guiding me. God loves you exactly the way you are and He is always with you. ❤️

    • whateveryousay says:


  9. Lauren says:

    This is the same Francis that angrily told reporters that he wasn’t going to condemn an archbishop for his part in hiding cases of sexual abuse towards minors for years in his region based on hearsay. So I’m not expecting anything from Francis. The church is always going to protect their own and protect their homophobic and misogynistic views for future generations.

  10. smee says:

    Awwww, so I can’t get blessed by a pederast?

  11. Willow says:

    Dear Pope, people whose chapels are filled with pedophile priests, baby killing nuns, and leaders who cover it up to protect their own power, have no blessings to give. What will you say to excuse your behavior when you are standing at those pearly gates?
    Signed, a former Catholic who left the church because of it’s overwhelming hypocrisy and cruelty.

    • Jennifer Romans says:

      Amen to that, I left the Church long ago because of their hypocrisy and corruption.

  12. Sarah says:

    Mmmmm. Abusing tens of thousands of children is the real sin, not consenting adults in loving relationships. To quote my favourite protest sign of all time: Jesus ain’t say that.

  13. Alison says:

    Ontario needs to stop the public funding of Catholic schools

    • LittlePenguin says:

      @Alison Alberta too. (and private schools but we won’t get into that)

      I have a few friends who are so upset about this statement. I want to go and hug each one of them (stupid pandemic) and tell them they don’t need the Catholic Church blessing – so, many other people are so happy for them finding happiness and joy.

      • HoofRat says:

        Seconded. I can speak from personal experience in saying there is no reason for publically-funded Catholic schools to exist. Same programming as the regular system, with a few badly taught religion classes and way more hypocrisy.

  14. Sandra says:

    I don’t know how it is in other places, but I live in a city that was once like 90% Catholic. A Catholic church/school on every corner, practically. They’re almost all closed now. And the few that are still open have pathetic membership numbers and are only full on Christmas.
    The biggest thing that made people turn away was of course the covering up and the allowance of pedophile priests to continue to abuse children. There was one in my parish growing up and nothing was done about it for years and years….and that wasn’t for lack of effort of other priests in the parish to get him out of there. When he finally was kicked out, he was reassigned to another parish where he led a boy scout troop and abused more children.
    And the other big thing is this. Not accepting people peaceably living their own lives. Enough with this cruel and pointless stance on LGBTQ people. And divorcees. And people, married couples even, who use effective birth control methods. I grew up very Catholic and now I’m an abomination in their eyes because I used IVF to have my baby. There is one, ONE, Catholic church in my city who is welcoming of everyone and actually means it.
    Damn it, Pope Francis. What happened to being “Cool Pope?”

    • megs283 says:

      St Cecilia’s?

      • Sandra says:

        No. If we had a St. Cecilia’s here, it doesn’t exist anymore.

      • megs283 says:

        Sandra, I asked because it sounded like you were describing Boston. St. Cecilia’s is a parish that sounds very similar to the one you described. I’m glad there is more than one out there…

    • Kiki says:

      I thought the same thing. What happened to “Cool and Awesome” Pope Francis? I thought the Catholic Church was changing little by little, but this is still with this “Staunch Catholic Values” that was written by man. Now granted, I have nothing against the Catholic Church (except the covering up, however, WE haven’t forgotten Jehovah Witness and their sexual abuses.) P.S: Don’t get me Evangelical Baptist churches and their foolishness.

      Anyway, I though the Catholic Church is starting a new page, but they are still going backwards and sticking to their old ways. I guess they aren’t going to change after all.


  15. JT says:

    I don’t know why people are outraged over this. Is his stance really a surprise? It’s the Catholic Church. It seems a little silly to me that people are wasting their anger over this. Did people really think that the same institution that protects pedophiles was going to open up the doors for LGBTQ folks?

  16. HoofRat says:

    Even though homophobia and other bigotries are incredibly pervasive and persistent in ecclesiastical institutions, I will never cease to be amazed at people who purport to follow the teachings of Christ, yet judge others and try to exclude them from full membership in the Body of Christ. “God may accept and cherish every part of you, but I have STANDARDS!” is not an attitude that IMO, should or could ever be displayed by anyone who professes Christianity.

  17. Elle says:

    I wish they would be more like the united church. And this isn’t just a Catholic issue. Others (ie evangelicals) should follow suit as well, but we haven’t begun to call them out strongly enough I guess. What I have noticed is there are very few religions who are openly welcoming and preaching full acceptance of lgbtq community from the top down. It can also differ from church to church depending on who is running it, and what personal beliefs they hold. But all in all, Catholicism is very conservative in how it is run. The united church is liberal and open to change.

  18. Petra says:

    I’m disappointed in Pope Francis. I’d expected more from him. His earlier statements about the church welcoming all was starting to have positive effect on my devoted Catholic homophobic MIL.

    • april says:

      Agree with you.

    • Kelly Sunshine says:

      I’m disappointed in Pope Francis as well. I was raised Catholic and still very much believe in God and Jesus, but I just can’t support a church that condemns gay people while at the same time help cover up the abuses that went on within the church over God-only-knows how many years. When Pope Francis became Pope, I had such hopes that he would be a change within the Catholic Church… obviously I was wrong.

  19. Sandy123 says:

    I was raised in a Catholic environment, and as a hetero normative woman it was a frighteningly oppressive experience. I don’t care what the “NOT ALL CATHOLICS” brigade has to say, it is a deeply damaged and damaging institution that has no right to judge what is good or moral. They inflict actual evil upon their followers on a regular basis. To hell with them and anyone who defends them.

  20. A Catholic says:

    This just in: The Pope is Catholic.

    There are fundamental teachings of the Catholic faith that will not be changed; that cannot be changed. Sex outside of the sacrament of marriage is a sin. That will never change. Just as the Church will not bless unions between a man and woman who are not in a sacramental marriage, it will not bless unions between two people of the same sex not in a sacramental marriage.

    Does this really suck for two people who love each other and are committed to each other’s happiness and wellness? Yeah. It does. Is it unfair in our basic, human understanding of the world? Yeah. It is. Even outside of this particular discussion, there are personal choices that we as Catholics make as to whether we honor the teachings and traditions of the Church, or we don’t. And we accept the consequences when we don’t. That is a part of being Catholic – which is also a decision that you make for yourself.

  21. MF1 says:

    I was raised evangelical Christian (not Catholic), but this surprises me not one bit. Of course the Catholic Church, and Christianity more generally, is outdated. What else can you expect from a religion that’s based on a thousand-year-old book?

    This is why I’m now non-religious. I refuse to buy into this stupidity and let my views be shaped by a bunch of misogynistic, homophobic dudes from 100 AD.

  22. Lunasf17 says:

    I just don’t understand why people are still giving money and going to Catholic Churches. Have y’all not read the news for the past 25 years or so? The programming is so strong with these religions that they can protect child abusers and cover up abuse and be well reported but still people can’t break the ties. This is cult programming and it’s scary to me. No different than Scientology, just more people which legitimatizes it.

    • Gennessee says:

      Because, and this may be hard to understand, there is a difference between believing and having faith in the dogma but not agreeing with the religious organization itself.

      The organization is run by man and flawed. That’s not what is worshiped. The Mass is what is important. Everything else is religious politics.

      • Kelly Sunshine says:

        I don’t agree with a lot of the Catholic churches beliefs. I think that gay men and women should be able to love and marry whoever the heck they want to! I believe in a woman’s choice on what to do with her own body. I’m not pro-abortion, but am definitely pro-choice.

        But deep down, I still believe in God and the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. I say the Hail Mary, but don’t believe that Mary was a virgin.

        I guess I’m just a mixed- up Catholic, who doesn’t agree with church politics at all. If I ran the church, I would for darned sure make every person accused of any types of abuse was thoroughly investigated and charged if there was evidence.

  23. Veronica S. says:

    LGBT+ people would do better to learn sooner rather than later not to rely on institutions to validate their existence. The church lost any authority on morality on the last dozen or so child abuse cases.

  24. Monkey70 says:

    I like how Elton John doesn’t see the hypocrisy in accepting money to make a movie from an anti-gay church. Then he did play at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding of course.

  25. Valerie says:

    I want to say, who cares what the Catholic Church thinks, but far too many people do and that’s part of the problem.

  26. april says:

    I think the Pope made a huge mistake and now has some heavy karma payback in store for him. I’m very disappointed in him.

  27. Annetommy says:

    No time for the Pope since he compared a woman having an abortion to a woman hiring a hit man. Disgraceful.

  28. Lovesitinnm says:

    There’s no reason to believe in a God that is not unconditional love.

  29. MsGnomer says:

    Read Old Testament story of Lot fleeing soddam and gamorrah. (The one where his wife turns into a pillar of salt.) His daughters get him drunk and have sex with him. (To preserve his seed) So, to me, this indicative of the acceptance of incest. I should make a list of all the old testament bullshit that is ignored. Choosing to focus on hatred and bigotry of gays makes that church an out dated sham. They all know the teaching in the New Testament – a Gospel even. Christ says LOVE EVERYONE is the most important commandment. THEY KNOW. Pope Francis, shame on you.