The Vatican on Monday, March 15, said that while priests should welcome homosexual people, they cannot bless same-sex marriages as God "does not bless sin", reported The Guardian. The Church stated that marriage is exclusively the union of a man and woman.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the order in response to a question raised by some pastors who asked, "Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?"
The response was approved by Pope Francis who had supported same-sex civil union laws last year.
The order said that while "the Christian community and its pastors must welcome with respect and sensitivity those individuals with homosexual inclinations", their unions cannot be blessed as God "does not bless sin".
In the order, the Vatican explained that Catholic teaching believed that marriage between a man and woman was part of god's plan, and since same-sex unions were not intended to be part of that plan, they could not be blessed by the church.
"God does not and cannot bless sin", it stated. "He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognise that he is part of his plan of love and allow him to be changed by him."
It also said that there was a chance that same-sex unions could be mistaken as constituting "a certain imitation" of the marital blessing invoked in heterosexual matrimony. In fact, "there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family," the Vatican wrote.
In a documentary titled Francesco in October last year, Pope Francis had said that "homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family," reported Scroll.in.
"Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it," he had said.
The pope had also focussed on the need for a "civil union law". "That way they are legally covered," he had said.
The Vatican, however, said that those comments had been taken out of context and did not point to a change in doctrine.
The Vatican's order that same-sex unions cannot be blessed because they are sinful received incessant criticism by rights activists.
Louisa Wall, a New Zealand lawmaker said, "I join many gay Catholics who are disheartened by this announcement and I hope their church leaders continue to advocate for these blessings," the lawmaker said. "The Catholic Church could role-model an ability to evolve with their membership."