Catholic Church hasn’t changed stance on traditional marriage: Singapore Archdiocese , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Catholic Church hasn’t changed stance on traditional marriage: Singapore Archdiocese

The Archdiocese of Singapore has clarified that a recent declaration from the Vatican allowing priests to bless same-sex couples does not mean the Catholic Church has changed its position on its traditional doctrine about marriage.

“The focus of the declaration is not on the blessing of the unions of same-sex couples,” Cardinal William Goh said in a statement issued on Dec 18.

“Rather,” he said, “it provides guidance in making a distinction between the Church’s official blessings and a pastoral blessing for all occasions outside the liturgical and sacramental setting.”

Official blessings “require the use of approved prayers in addition to conditions to be met”, he explained.

Pastoral blessings, on the other hand, “are ad lib prayers offered simultaneously for the person”.

The Vatican said on Dec 18 that Pope Francis has allowed priests to bless same-sex couples, his most definitive step yet to make the Roman Catholic Church more welcoming to LGBTQ Catholics and more reflective of his vision of a more pastoral, and less rigid, church.

The Vatican has long said it cannot bless same-sex couples because it would undermine church doctrine that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

But the new rule makes it clear that a blessing of a same-sex couple is not the same as a marriage sacrament, a formal ceremonial rite.

It also stressed that it is not blessing the relationship, and that, to avoid confusion, blessings should not be imparted during or connected to the ceremony of a civil or same-sex union, or when there are “any clothing, gestures or words that are proper to a wedding”.

Blessings, instead, are better imparted during a meeting with a priest, a visit to a shrine, during a pilgrimage or as a prayer recited in a group, said the Vatican.

Cardinal Goh reiterated this stand: “We are not blessing the unions of same-sex couples."

He added that the Church, in allowing pastoral blessings for same-sex couples, “wants everyone, without exemption, to receive God’s blessings for good health, loving relationships, financial security and, most of all, their spiritual growth in understanding, discerning and accepting the will of God in their lives, as taught in scripture and by the Church”.

He said the Vatican’s latest declaration “rather than endorsing the blessing of irregular marriages and same-sex unions, sets out the rules and boundaries for priests as to how they should bless these couples without having these blessings mistaken by others as the Church’s approval of such unions”.