In a July letter, Pope Francis seemed to suggest that the Catholic Church needed to have “pastoral charity” when it came to same-sex marriages.
"The defense of objective truth is not the only expression of this charity; it also includes kindness, patience, understanding, tenderness, and encouragement,” Francis said in the letter. “Therefore, we cannot be judges who only deny, reject, and exclude.”
He added that "pastoral prudence must adequately discern whether there are forms of blessing, requested by one or more persons, that do not convey a mistaken concept of marriage."
Francis also affirmed that the Church believes in a marriage that is “an exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to procreation," according to ABC News.
The BBC reported that the letter came after a group of cardinals asked him for clarity on same-sex marriages. Bishops in some countries have begun allowing priests to bless same-sex couples, but the Catholic Church has not offered a change to its official position until now.
The official position is that the Chuch cannot bless same-sex marriages because “God cannot bless sin.”
Francis’ most recent letter suggests that blessings would be unofficial or on a case-by-case basis.
“Pope Francis' response is both unprecedented and compassionate and continues to urge every Catholic and leader toward acceptance and recognition of LGBTQ people," said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO.
Previously, Francis has said that the Catholic Church is for “todos, todos, todos” or everyone.
When he was asked if that included members of the LGBT community, he said although the Church has laws, the LGBTQ community still had a place in the Church.
The pope’s most recent letter comes just days before the start of a three-week meeting at the Vatican where Church officials will discuss the state of the Catholic Church and its future.
Among the discussion points for the meeting are hot-button issues like the role of women in the church and the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.
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