Fr Joseph Obada
Following are Excerpts and Clarifications on the news making rounds that the Catholic Church can now bless same sex unions.
- The social/ mainstream media is not the safest resource for news of this nature. There are official sites to get real news on matters like this. I suggest Vatican.va, or Vatican news, amongst others. Don’t always believe headlines. Dig deeper.
- Does the Church even power to bless same sex unions?
The Church does not have the power to impart blessings on unions of persons of the same sex. YOU CANNOT BLESS SINS, BUT YOU CAN BLESS SINNERS.
- So, what’s the meaning of “blessing” in context…
Pope Francis urges us to contemplate, with an attitude of faith and fatherly mercy, the fact that “when one asks for a blessing, one is expressing a petition for God’s assistance, a plea to live better, and confidence in a Father who can help us live better.”Thus, 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.
- So, how is this different from what is done liturgically?
…..When a blessing is invoked on certain human relationships by a special liturgical rite, it is necessary that what is blessed corresponds with God’s designs written in creation and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. For this reason, since the Church has always considered only those sexual relations that are lived out within marriage to be morally licit, the Church does not have the power to confer its liturgical blessing when that would somehow offer a form of moral legitimacy to a union that presumes to be a marriage or to an extra-marital sexual practice.
- So, blessing someone/something does not mean sanctioning/ approving it?
In the Pope’s words, “avoiding all serious forms of scandal and confusion among the faithful—it is suggested that the ordained minister join in the prayer of those persons who, although in a union that cannot be compared in any way to a marriage, desire to entrust themselves to the Lord and his mercy, to invoke his help, and to be guided to a greater understanding of his plan of love and of truth.
In such cases, a blessing may be imparted that not only has an ascending value but also involves the invocation of a blessing that descends from God upon those who—recognizing themselves to be destitute and in need of his help—do not claim a legitimation of their own status, but who beg that all that is true, good, and humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- Should blessings, (properly understood) be imparted on those who need help(e.g same sex couples amongst others)?
Because, indeed, the grace of God works in the lives of those who do not claim to be righteous but who acknowledge themselves humbly as sinners, like everyone else. This grace can orient everything according to the mysterious and unpredictable designs of God. Therefore, with its untiring wisdom and motherly care, the Church welcomes all who approach God with humble hearts, accompanying them with those spiritual aids that enable everyone to understand and realize God’s will fully in their existence
- But, isn’t this whole thing just ambiguous and confusing?
Honestly, it can be, but………….
[In Pope Francis’ words], “precisely to avoid any form of confusion or scandal, when the prayer of blessing is requested by a couple in an irregular situation, even though it is expressed outside the rites prescribed by the liturgical books, this blessing should never be imparted in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them. Nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding. The same applies when the blessing is requested by a same-sex couple.
There is no intention to legitimize anything, but rather to open one’s life to God, to ask for his help to live better, and also to invoke the Holy Spirit so that the values of the Gospel may be lived with greater faithfulness.
- So, Has the Church approved/sanctioned same sex unions?
“Blessings” open a sinner to God’s grace. It doesn’t sanction or approve the sin, but “en- graces” the sinner . Same Sex unions remain disordered and sinful. Those in that lifestyle need help (even if they don’t know it). Should we pray for, (bless) them- YES,
Should we still condemn the sin while doing that? -YES.
FR JOSEPH OBADA IS BIOETHICIST AT THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF ABUJA