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of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
to a dubium regarding
the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex
TO THE QUESTION PROPOSED:
Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the
In some ecclesial contexts, plans and proposals for blessings of unions of
persons of the same sex are being advanced. Such projects are not infrequently
motivated by a sincere desire to welcome and accompany homosexual persons, to
whom are proposed paths of growth in faith, “so that those who manifest a
homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and
fully carry out God’s will in their lives”.
On such paths, listening to the word of God, prayer, participation in ecclesial
liturgical actions and the exercise of charity can play an important role in
sustaining the commitment to read one's own history and to adhere with freedom
and responsibility to one's baptismal call, because “God loves every person and
the Church does the same”,
rejecting all unjust discrimination.
Among the liturgical actions of the Church, the sacramentals have a
singular importance: “These are sacred signs that resemble the sacraments: they
signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind, which are obtained through
the Church’s intercession. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect
of the sacraments, and various occasions of life are sanctified”.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies, then, that “sacramentals
do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do,
but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to
cooperate with it” (#1670).
Blessings belong to the category of the sacramentals, whereby the Church
“calls us to praise God, encourages us to implore his protection, and exhorts us
to seek his mercy by our holiness of life”.
In addition, they “have been established as a kind of imitation of the
sacraments, blessings are signs above all of spiritual effects that are achieved
through the Church’s intercession”.
Consequently, in order to conform with the nature of sacramentals, when a
blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right
intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be
objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to
the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord.
Therefore, only those realities which are in themselves ordered to serve those
ends are congruent with the essence of the blessing imparted by the Church.
For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or
partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage
(i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the
transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same
sex. The presence in such
relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and
appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate
objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the
context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.
Furthermore, since blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments,
the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit. This is because
they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing
invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of Matrimony, while 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 declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of
the same sex is not therefore, and is not intended to be, a form of unjust
discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of
the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them.
The Christian community and its Pastors are called to welcome with respect and
sensitivity persons with homosexual inclinations, and will know how to find the
most appropriate ways, consistent with Church teaching, to proclaim to them the
Gospel in its fullness. At the same time, they should recognize the genuine
nearness of the Church – which prays for them, accompanies them and shares their
journey of Christian faith – and
receive the teachings with sincere openness.
The answer to the proposed dubium does not preclude the blessings given
to individual persons with homosexual inclinations,
who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as
proposed by Church teaching. Rather, it declares illicit any form of blessing
that tends to acknowledge their unions as such. In this case, in fact, the
blessing would manifest not the intention to entrust such individual persons to
the protection and help of God, in the sense mentioned above, but to approve and
encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively
ordered to the revealed plans of God.
At the same time, the Church recalls that God Himself never ceases to bless each
of His pilgrim children in this world, because for Him “we are more important to
God than all of the sins that we can commit”.
But he does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he may
recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by
him. He in fact “takes us as we are, but never leaves us as we are”.
For the above mentioned reasons, the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of
persons of the same sex in the sense intended above.
The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned
Secretary of this Congregation, was informed and gave his assent to the
publication of the above-mentioned Responsum ad dubium, with the annexed Explanatory Note.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the 22nd
of February 2021, Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle.
Luis F. Card. Ladaria, S.I.
✠ Giacomo Morandi
Archbishop tit. of Cerveteri
FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation
 SYNOD OF BISHOPS,
Final Document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly,
 SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
Sacrosanctum Concilium, 60.
 RITUALE ROMANUM
ex Decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II
instauratum auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. Il promulgatum, De bendictionibus, Praenotanda Generalia, n.9.
 Ibidem, n. 10.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357.
 In fact, the nuptial blessing refers back to the creation account, in
which God's blessing on man and woman is related to their fruitful union (cf.
Gen 1:28) and their complementarity (cf. Gen 2:18-24).
 FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation
Amoris laetitia, 251.
 Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH,
problema On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 15.
 De benedictionibusin fact presents an extended list of situations for which to invoke the blessing
of the Lord.
 CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH,
On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 7.
General Audience of December 2, 2020, Catechesis on Prayer,