Vatican ruling on same-sex marriage sparks defiance, outrage

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis bans same sex marriage
Pope Francis bans Catholic churches from blessing same sex marriage

Agency Report

Catholic Church has been thrown into an upheaval, following the Vatican’s directive banning the blessing of same-sex marriage.

The directive has sparked defiance among some priests in Europe.

Bishops said they have been left perplexed on how to minister to gay Catholics.

And gays have also expressed outrage that Pope Francis could issue the decree.

Conservatives praised the ruling, issued on Monday by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

But it greatly disappointed gay Catholics, who felt their Church was becoming more welcoming under Pope Francis.

“I feel vicarious shame for my Church,” Johan Bonny, the Roman Catholic bishop of Antwerp, Belgium, wrote in a commentary on Wednesday in the Flemish newspaper De Standard.

“I want to apologise to all those for whom this response is painful and incomprehensible… their pain for the Church is mine today … God has never been stingy or pedantic with His blessing on people,” he said.

Bonny’s response was among the most blunt by a bishop.

Others, such as Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia, pointed to the challenges the Church now faces.

“It’s one thing to say we can’t bless same-sex unions.

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“Well let’s then commit ourselves to grappling with the question about how else we might include same-sex couples,” Coleridge said on Wednesday in a webinar with the Catholic magazine The Tablet.

“It’s just not enough to say ‘we can’t, we can’t’”.

Father James Martin, a New York Jesuit, said he feared the directive may prompt “some LGBTQ Catholics to leave the church, after years of feeling rejected and unwelcome.”

In Germany, more than 1,000 people, most of them priests, had by Wednesday signed a petition in which they said they would not refuse to give blessings, according to Burkhard Hose, a priest who launched an initiative calling for “pastoral disobedience”.

In some countries, parishes and ministers had begun blessing same-sex unions in lieu of marriage, and there had been calls for bishops to institutionalise de facto such blessings, although the practice caused alarm among conservatives.

The ruling, which the pope approved, came as a surprise to many in the 1.3 billion-member Church because he has been more conciliatory towards gay people than perhaps any other pontiff.

He has held meetings with gay couples and encouraged those who want to raise their children in the Church to do so.

In 2013 he made the now-famous remark “Who am I to judge” about gay people seeking God and trying to live by the Church’s rules.

The Catholic Church teaches homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are.

Bill Donohue, president of the U.S.-based Catholic League, which backs conservative views, welcomed the ruling in a statement in which he also criticised bishops in Germany who have expressed support for the blessing of same-sex couples.

“It is one thing to say all persons possess equal dignity in the eyes of God; it is quite another to say that whatever they do is acceptable to God.

`’Human status and human behaviour are not identical,” he said.

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