Catholic Church won’t bless same-sex unions but welcomes LGBTQ community

Cathedral Basilica Archdiocese of Agana (PNC file photo)

Earlier this week, the Vatican declared that it can’t bless same-sex unions.

So what does this mean for Guam’s faithful who are also part of the LGBTQ community?

Father Mike Crisostomo, pastor at St. Anthony’s church and the Agana Archdiocese Vicar for Clergy, spoke with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo about the decree Wednesday morning.

On March 15th, the Vatican issued an answer to the question of whether the Church has the power to bless same-sex unions.

The Vatican said that the answer is no.

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In the Catholic Church, blessing a same-sex union is different from accepting same-sex marriage.

Blessings fall under the umbrella of sacramentals and sacramentals have less significance than sacraments such as baptism and marriage.

In the decision, it was explained that some clergy were proposing that if the Church can’t open the sacrament of marriage to same-sex couples, perhaps they could bless same-sex unions.

However, the decision stated that it’s forbidden “…to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships…that involve sexual activity outside of marriage…as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex…”

The decision, and Crisostomo, do approve of the desire to be welcoming to people from the LGBTQ community.

The decision goes on to say that the prohibition on blessing same-sex unions “does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations.”

“This is nothing new…this reaffirms the teachings of the church historically, and consistently, from scripture and tradition. And so what we’re reading here is just a reaffirmation of what has always been the church’s position. And this does not diminish the love or pastoral care for persons of same-sex, or diminishes the individual who’s struggling or who is experiencing same-sex attraction,” Fr. Crisostomo said.

He added that many members of the LGBTQ community are loved and respected members of the island’s faithful who’ve contributed much to the local church.

However, he said that the Church can’t go against the laws which, according to the Catholic faith, were established by God.

Although the Church can’t bless same-sex unions, Crisostomo said the Church needs to find other ways to reach out to and welcome the LGBTQ community.

“This is basically tough love. This is difficult for many to swallow…because then, ‘Are they not blessed, then, by God?’ I don’t think God loves them any less, because they’re homosexual or gay or anything like that. I think all the more, is that the unions that they’ve created, the relationships that they’ve forged, are not recognized by God’s law, and that’s something that we work with. Something we have to deal with and address. Again, it’s nothing new. It’s there and we’re still processing this, as I said, with our priests. I’m sure we’ll be meeting to discuss this, and move forward, and see how we can pastorally care and reach out to our people,” Fr. Crisostomo said.