Pope Francis has once again stated that the Catholic Church won’t bless same-sex marriages, calling it a divine sacrament that the church cannot change.
Speaking to reporters last week, Francis was asked if he approves of European countries passing laws recognizing marriage equality, the Associated Press reports.
“I have spoken clearly about this, no? Marriage is a sacrament. Marriage is a sacrament,” the Pope replied. “The church doesn’t have the power to change sacraments. It’s as our Lord established.”
Francis said that it was “important” to pass laws that “try to help the situation for many people of different sexual orientation,” but that such laws can’t impose “things that by nature do not function in the church.”
But Francis did support civil laws that extend protections and benefits to same-sex couples.
“If they want to spend their lives together, a homosexual couple, nations have the possibility civilly to support them, to give them safety with regards to inheritance and health,” he added.
Despite opposing Catholic Church blessings same-sex marriages, Pope Francis rejected those who would condemn gay people.
“Marriage is marriage, but this does not mean condemning [homosexual] people,” he said. “These are our brothers and sisters and we need to be close to them.”
Francis reiterated that “marriage as a sacrament is clear,” but highlighted civil laws extending benefits beyond marriage, adding, “three widows who want to partner through a law to have health care and then share the inheritance, you can do these things.”
In March, the Vatican released an official statement, approved by Pope Francis, declaring that the Catholic Church would never be able to bless same-sex marriages, calling them “sinful” and branding homosexuality a “choice.
Last year, it appeared that Francis — whose history with regard to LGBTQ issues has been mixed — had made comments supporting civil union laws for same-sex couples as part of an interview he gave as part of a documentary. But the Vatican pushed back against the remarks, arguing they had been taken out of context.
Following the Vatican statement in March, dozens of Catholic priests in Germany defied the church’s messaging on gay relationships and blessed same-sex unions, in a planned event that was livestreamed by many of the more than 100 churches which participated.
“In view of the refusal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to bless homosexual partnerships, we raise our voices and say: We will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership in the future and bless their relationship,” the priests said in a statement.
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