A priest in Brazil has been suspended from ministry because he blessed a same-gender couple in late 2019.
Fr. Vicente Paula Gomes blessed a same-gender couple’s union in early December, leading the Archiocese of Assis to issue an injunction against Gomes being in ministry five days later. The injunction, signed by Archbishop Argemiro de Azevedo, is in place only until an investigation into Gomes’ actions takes place.
The offending action was partially captured on video. It shows Gomes saying he is “happy to be here” because creating family is really “means to create the conditions for a dignified life.” Crux reported further:
“Gomes then humorously admitted he was ‘trembling a bit’ given that it was the first time he would give such a blessing.
“‘I’m already thinking about what Bishop Argemiro is going to say on Monday. But as I initially said, this blessing doesn’t diminish me, nor does it diminish the Church, nor [does it diminish] you,’ he said.
“After the men exchanged vows, Gomes said: ‘You have declared your love and you had the courage to make it public among your friends and before the Holy Church. Of course I cannot give you this sacrament, but I shed a blessing over you, so you’ll have a duty as companions till the end of your lives. And don’t forget that God blesses your love now and forever.’
“The video shows that the priest then allowed the men to kiss, but playfully turned his back on them as they did it. As he turned back to them, he covered his eyes while they still kissed.”
While Gomes and the couple involved are not commenting, supporters of the priest have taken to social media with messages like #WeAreAllFatherVicente.
The suspension right now is only temporary as an investigation is carried out. Hopefully, the outcome of that investigation will be to quickly reinstate the priest to ministry. Such an outcome would recognize the reality that a growing number of pastoral ministers are already blessing same-gender couples. And that a growing number of church leaders, including top officials like papal advisor Cardinal Reinhard Marx, now publicly support such blessings. Fr. Gomes should not be punished for ministering on the church’s peripheries. Rather, he should be celebrated for doing so.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, January 9, 2020