Defying the Vatican, Belgian bishops bless same-sex unions

The Catholic bishops of Belgium issued this Tuesday a document that in fact allows the blessing of unions between people of the same sexapparently in direct defiance of a ruling against such practices by the Vatican’s doctrinal office last year.

The document posted on the website of the Belgian episcopal conference suggested a ritual including a prayer and a blessing for stable same-sex unions, while stressing that it is not “what the Church understands by sacramental marriage”.

He said that the Church wanted to be “pastorally close to homosexual people” and to be a “welcoming Church that excludes no one”.

He suggested a ritual that would begin with prayers and include a commitment by the two people in front of family and friends to be faithful to each other. The ritual would end with more prayer and what the document calls a “blessing”.

There was no immediate comment from the Vatican.

In March 2021, in response to formal questions from several Roman Catholic dioceses about whether the practice of blessing same-sex unions was allowed, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), ruled that was no.

At the time, the CDF said that its ruling “was not intended to be a form of unfair discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite” of the sacrament of marriage and the blessing associated with it.