Gift Joseph Okpakorese
Advocates of the LGBT movement have in recent times, made their opinion and presence felt in most areas of social life and they are not only fighting for recognition but also acceptance and equality in all facets of life.
Recently, the Vatican City in Rome, had on Monday, March 15 2021 disclosed that priests and other ministers of the Roman Catholic Church are not permitted to bless same-sex relationships or marital unions.
Recall that Pope Francis had earlier invited LGBT advocates to the Vatican and had made certain statements that talked about sensitivity to the place of gay people in the church. He has called for national laws for same-sex civil unions.
Nevertheless, The Holy Father, on Monday, did not hesitate to clarify his impressions and definitively sounded the maxima to his reformist intentions, when he signed off on a Vatican pronouncement that reaffirmed former church doctrine and prohibited priests from dedicating same-sex unions.
According to the decree, which goes contrary to the expectations and belief of the LGBT Catholics, who had long felt alienated and we’re seeking respite from the possibility and hope of Pope Francis changing his mind, It says that same-sex unions are “not ordered to the Creator’s plan.” It says acknowledging those unions is “illicit.” It says that God “cannot bless sin.”
The recent decree reveals how the Patriarch of Rome instead of revolutionizing the church’s position toward gays, has taken a far more sophisticated strategy, communicating in polite terms but categorically affirming the official teaching of the church that left gay Catholics contemplating their position within the faith, especially the aspect where the catechism calls homosexual acts “disordered” but the pontiff says, “Who am I to judge?”
Francis “has extended a warmer welcome than any of his predecessors have done,” said Patrick Hornbeck, a Fordham University professor of theology who is gay, married, and Episcopalian. “But today’s statement shows that his hospitality has limits.”
Many persons who initially listened to the words of the Holy pontiff were expecting a drastic and radical alteration of some of the church doctrines on LGBT matters and gay unions. But although he had had some form of sympathy for people who are LGBT, he however surprisingly stated his opposition to same-sex marriage. He confirmed that officially, the church insists that sex should be between a man and a woman, for the purpose of procreation. According to the Pope, modifying any part of that would perhaps provoke a second thought on other positions of the church such delicate issues as gender identity and contraception.
Although the Vatican did not stipulate what motivated the decree, it was purportedly written in reaction to prevailing doctrinal issues. Meanwhile, some ardent followers of the Vatican have inferred that the church was probably responding immediately to bishops in Germany, who are reportedly having series of meetings, aimed at revaluating important facets of the church doctrines including sexuality and the role of women, to the amazement of conservatives.
There is a palpable fear that some German bishops are trying to get ahead of the pope with their radical opinions and this was seen in the instance of a 2019 consultation with The Washington Post, whereby Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, deputy chairman of the German bishops’ conference, said that although he could not bless same-sex unions — “that would not be approved by Rome” — he didn’t object if priests wanted to be with couples in a civil ceremony outside the church.
“I like to give the priests freedom to decide themselves,” Bode said.
However, the renowned church’s doctrinal body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said blessings can be invoked on a relationship only when it is “positively ordered to receive and express grace.”
It is a fact that Pope Francis had given some form of liberty in decision-making on certain controversial issues and policies up to local churches as it varies in some nations, he, however, took a firm and conservative decision on this issue. An approach that would remind and put pressure and call liberal clerics to order.
A conservative theologian at Catholic University Chad Pecknold, also confirmed that Francis was tolling the path of Pope Paul VI, who had seemed open to doctrinal change on sexual morality but then issued a 1968 edict reiterating the church’s ban on artificial birth control. in his words;
“This is Francis doing much the same — shocking progressives by affirming the church’s teaching that sexual activity outside of the marriage of one man and one woman is contrary to the good of human dignity,” Pecknold said.
The church has reiterated that its determination was not intended to be “a form of unjust discrimination” and called on priests to welcome those with “homosexual inclinations” with respect and sensitivity. The decree said individual gay people could continue to be blessed by the church, provided they show “the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching.”
Furthermore, a renowned Scholar, at Catholic Studies Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center Steve White, criticized those who were expecting the pope to alter the church’s position on same-sex unions as unrealistic. He claims that;
“This isn’t a waffling back-and-forth from Pope Francis,” he said. “This is consistent with statements like ‘Who am I to judge?’ People who don’t see that are misunderstanding the pope.”
The decree comes just five months after Francis roused hopes among LGBT Catholics with comments calling for same-sex couples to be “legally covered” by civil union laws. Although the report suggested that the pope’s comments were never intended to be public become public since its origin was from a portion of a 2019 interview with a Mexican broadcaster that was never aired.
But many gay Catholics, speaking on Monday, said they felt betrayed or wounded by the Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity¬USA, America’s largest Although gay Catholics, said it is “hard for a lot of people to understand just how removed the church is, from human rights advances that are being made in the rest of society.”
Meanwhile, Aurelio Mancuso, former head of Arcigay, Italy’s leading gay rights group, disclosed that in a ceremony with his partner, in 2016, a priest had blessed their wedding bands — and that such acts would continue to go on, “regardless of the reprimands.”
“Catholic homosexuals like me know the opinions and traditions of the Catholic Church,” Mancuso said. “The gist of it is that we’re not part of the Creator’s design, and are thus a sin, something that has to be corrected. It’s intolerable that the hierarchy — not the church — stubbornly keeps justifying discrimination.”
He continued by insisting that no matter the determinations inside the Vatican, the gates for greater acceptance had “already swung open.”
“This is a document that nobody needed,” Mancuso said. “It’s not about the truth of faith, but the opinion of the hierarchy.”