Pope Francis approves allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples

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(NEW YORK) — Pope Francis has formally signed off on allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples — a radical change in Vatican policy.

A document from the Vatican’s doctrine office released Monday provides guidance and details the declaration, which states, in part, “When people ask for a blessing, an exhaustive moral analysis should not be placed as a precondition for conferring it. For those seeking a blessing should not be required to have prior moral perfection.”

In October, the pope publicly responded to cardinals who questioned his affirmation of the LGBTQ community in the Catholic Church, suggesting it may be possible to bless same-sex unions — a move applauded at the time by LGBTQ advocates.

“Pope Francis’ response is both unprecedented and compassionate and continues to urge every Catholic and leader toward acceptance and recognition of LGBTQ people,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, said in October.

New Ways Ministry, an LGBTQ Catholic outreach group, said at the time that the pope’s statement was a significant advancement in the inclusion of LGBTQ Catholics in the church.

In August, Pope Francis told the hundreds of thousands gathered before him for World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, that the Catholic Church is for “todos, todos, todos” — everyone, everyone, everyone.

When asked if “todos” included the LGBTQ community, he said it is still a place for everyone.

Pope Francis has also criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality.

Throughout his papacy, Francis has withheld the church’s position on doctrinal matters but introduced a softer approach to those who didn’t follow the church’s teaching, especially regarding LGBTQ people. When a journalist asked Francis a question about gay priests while returning from the first foreign trip of his papacy in 2013, the pope stunned people with his response: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

ABC News’ Phoebe Natanson, Ines de la Cuetara and Kiara Alfonseca contributed to this report.

 

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