LGBTQ Catholics react to Vatican’s denial of blessings to same sex unions

BOSTON — Practicing Catholics in the LGBTQ community are reacting to the Vatican’s confirmation Monday that the Catholic church cannot bless same sex unions.

An explanation from the Vatican, approved by Pope Francis, said God “cannot bless sin.”

The decree distinguished between the church’s welcoming and blessing of gay people, which it upheld, but not their unions, since any such sacramental recognition could be confused with marriage.

The Vatican holds that gays must be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered.” Catholic teaching holds that marriage, a lifelong union between a man and woman, is part of God’s plan and is intended for the sake of creating new life.

Since gay unions are not intended to be part of that plan, they cannot be blessed by the church, the document from the Vatican said.

“The fact that the Vatican is saying same sex couples cannot even get a blessing from a church that blesses statues and cars and athletic field is really hurtful and disappointing,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, a Boston resident who married her wife in a covenant ceremony in 1998 and later legally married in 2004.

Duddy-Burke is the executive director of DignityUSA, a progressive and inclusive Catholic community for people of all sexual orientations, genders and gender identities.

Its Boston chapter meets at the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the South End.

“The Catholic people have moved way beyond where their leadership is. Statements like this only increase the wedge that already exists between the people of the church and its leadership,” Duddy-Burke told Boston 25 News.

Pope Francis has endorsed providing gay couples with legal protections in same-sex unions, but that is in reference to the civil sphere, not within the church.

“If the most liberal pope in the modern history of the church reaffirms traditional church teaching, I think that’s a clear signal that the Catholic church is not going to change on this,” said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.

Doyle said he believes the Vatican’s statement shouldn’t be a surprise, as hurtful as it may be to some.

“The church isn’t a sociological entity. It isn’t a political party. It isn’t a social club. It’s job is to tell the truth about God’s plan for salvation,” Doyle said. “The church is not going to abandon sacred scripture.”

The Boston Archdiocese declined to comment on the matter and directed all questions to the Vatican.

A statement from DignityUSA said the Vatican’s denial of blessings to same sex unions is “dismissive of the grace demonstrated by same-sex couples who live deeply loving and committed relationships.”

“It harms families of LGBTQ+ people, and young LGBTQ+ people who hoped the church would be more affirming, and even hoped to be married in the church someday,” the statement went on to say. “We have been privileged to witness the amazing tenacity and profound love of same-sex couples who have been together for 45, 50 years or more. They remained committed despite lack of social supports, their relationships being considered illegal and immoral, and family rejection. If these people are not models of grace deserving of every blessing, I don’t know who are.”