The following is a statement from Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, in response to the Vatican’s ban on the blessing of same-gender unions.
It is not surprising, but still disappointing, that the Vatican has responded “no” to the dubium about whether the church can bless same-sex unions.
This decision though is an impotent one because it won’t stop the movement to bless such couples, and, in fact, it will actually encourage Catholics in the pews and the many Catholic leaders who are eager for such blessings to happen to work harder in their support—and blessing—of same-sex couples.
Though Rome has now spoken on this issue, what the Vatican doesn’t realize is that the Catholic faithful are not satisfied with the answer that they gave. Catholic people recognize the holiness of the love between committed same-sex couples and recognize this love as divinely inspired and divinely supported and thus meets the standard to be blessed. They recognize that God has already blessed these unions, and that a ritual is simply a recognition of God’s blessing. New Ways Ministry has been promoting many creative ways that Catholic parishes have been supporting and celebrating same-sex couples.
A number of bishops have already raised the question of blessing lesbian and gay couples, and many priests in parishes are already celebrating such blessings. Catholics will continue to find creative ways to bless the couples they love and support. If priests and pastoral ministers no longer feel they can perform such a blessing, the Catholic laity will step in and perform their own rituals, gestures, and words of support. The fact that this discussion is well underway ensures that it will continue. The toothpaste is out of the tube and it can’t be put back inside.
The Vatican issued a dubium in 1995 that the ordination of women was not allowed and that no discussion of it could happen. That strategy did not work, and the discussion of ordaining women in the Catholic Church is as alive as ever.
In 1968, the Vatican affirmed its opposition to artificial birth control. Today, according to the U.S. bishops’ own statistics, 96% of Catholic couples ignore this teaching.
People think that church teaching evolves at the top and filters down. That is not how it works. The sense of the faithful is important and how the faithful receive a teaching affects the validity of such teaching. The Catholic faithful have already expressed their support of same-sex couples, and they will continue to do so. This decision changes nothing other than motivating more Catholics to support same-gender couples.
For more information on how to be welcoming to married same-gender couples, click here.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, March 15, 2021