One month ago, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement that forbids the blessing of same sex marriages by priests. Endorsed by the Pope, this statement carries the weight of doctrine. The justification for this restriction was that, "God does not and cannot bless sin." Historically, marriage is important to the Catholic Church, as an institution, as a mechanism for procreation. Ensuring the continued prosperity of the church has meant refusals to endorse birth control and affirmations that the "sinful" nature of same-sex marriage stems from its divergence from God's intended goal of procreation.
From a theological perspective, marriage is a union that allows for the development of each individual together. Marriage is one way to cultivate agapic love, a love that seeks only to give with nothing expected in return. By sanctifying marriage as a sacrament, the Church recognizes the ability unions have to deepen our faith, as, at its core, we find God through our relations with others. Same-sex marriages provide all of these same opportunities for moral and personal development.
The hallmark of Christianity is the acceptance and beckoning of the "other". In this call to invite the other into communion with the Church, we cannot judge them nor should we try to change their identity. The Christian community is not meant to homogenize; it's meant to celebrate differences and cultivate love for one another. Continually calling gay marriage sinful causes real, tangible harms to the LGBTQ+ community. The Christian love is one that is supposed to be open to all—calling innate identities sinful means that LGBTQ+ members must change who they are to be "worthy" of God's love. This perversion of theology is done to subjugate, subdue, and exclude an entire community of people. All in the name of the same God who dined with tax collectors, prostitutes, and all those at the margins.
Pope Francis has called members of the LGBTQ+ community " children of God.” You cannot say this and then call their unions sinful. You cannot call yourself a Christian if you don't follow the greatest command of all—"love one another." Causing someone to doubt that they are loved is such an egregious act. I don't know about you, but to me, love is an empowering, caring, and hopeful force; everything the Catholic Church isn't when they put out a statement like that. The Pope said himself, “Who am I to judge”. When humans try to act like God, we've already strayed from Him. In terms of someone living their life without causing harm to others, we have no moral jurisdiction over it.
The Catholic Church can't even stick to a consistent agenda on the broader issue of sex. The same church that has protected child predators now wants to prevent others from living healthy, loving lives? These issues are inequitable and yet, the church has done more for predatory priests than it has for the LGBTQ+ community. The blatant hypocrisy and harm is in complete opposition to the theology and teachings of the Church. Holding the institution accountable is as Christian as caring for the sick.
These decrees are demoralizing and disappointing, but we also have to remember that at the end of the day, the Church is not the Vatican, it’s the people. As Catholics, we have a duty to support churches that stand against statements like this and actually work to build a community that celebrates all. I say this not to minimize the statement in any way, but to offer means of dissension. The whole reason why this statement came out now was to reprimand bishops who had been blessing same-sex unions. Despite the clear theological precedent that would point to acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, the Church continues to resist. It's up to us as members to advocate for change and accompany all who feel harmed by the Church. We should not judge those who leave, but rather work to ensure a welcoming environment that they can return to if they wish. As Father Martin would say, "systems are best unlocked from inside.”