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Pope Francis sparks debate after approving blessings for same-gender couples

Pope Francis faces backlash after he approved blessings for same-gender couples in Catholic Church

Pope Francis.Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images

In a groundbreaking move, Pope Francis has granted permission for Catholic priests to bless same-gender couples, marking a significant step forward for LGBTQ+ individuals within the Roman Catholic Church.

The Pope's decision allows priests to offer blessings for same-sex marriages and unions considered irregular under specific circumstances.

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While emphasising that these blessings should not be integrated into regular Church rituals or extend to civil unions, the Vatican reiterated its stance that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The official document announcing this change, approved by Pope Francis on Monday, reflects a nuanced approach.

The pontiff's progressive stance has drawn attention, especially as he becomes the first pope to openly endorse LGBTQ+ rights.

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His remarks challenging anti-LGBTQ+ laws precede his planned trip to Africa, where such laws are prevalent.

Earlier in January, he became the first Pope to openly express solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

In his latest message, Francis emphasised that all individuals are children of God, deserving of love and dignity, and urged bishops to embrace a process of conversion towards tenderness and acceptance.

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Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the prefect of the Church, emphasised that the declaration remains firm on the traditional doctrine of the Church about marriage.

The declaration encourages a process of conversion for bishops, urging them to apply tenderness in their approach, mirroring the compassion that God extends to each individual.

This historic move by Pope Francis signals a significant shift in the Church's stance on LGBTQ+ issues, fostering a more inclusive environment for same-gender couples within the Roman Catholic community.

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