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Updated December 24th, 2023 at 13:28 IST

Ukrainian Catholic Church latest to pushback against Pope's stance on blessing same-sex couples

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is only the latest to weigh in on the Vatican's recent groundbreaking proclamation regarding the blessing of same-sex couples.

Digital Desk
The Pope has urged Chuch leaders to avoid 'rigid ideological positions'.
The Pope has urged Chuch leaders to avoid 'rigid ideological positions'. | Image:AP/Andrew Medichini
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Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on Friday claimed that the Vatican's recent statement on blessing same-sex couples does not apply to Eastern Catholic churches.

The Archbishop said that he was compelled to make the statement in response to confusion regarding the recent declaration by the Vatican that it is possible to give “blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex”.

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While the declaration specifically steers clear of blessings for same-sex marriages, its changed stance towards same-sex couples has elicited a variety of reactions worldwide.

In the Indian state of Meghalaya, for instance, the declaration led the Archbishop of Shillong, Victor Lyngdoh, to say that the doors to his church are now open for same-sex couples. Though he, too, emphasised in a letter that “this should not be mistaken as the official liturgical and ritual blessings of the Church during marriage”.

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Contrasting this stance of acceptance, the Polish bishop's conference pushed back against the declaration from the Vatican, pointedly noting that marriage is only a union between man and woman and that any sexual acts outside this union are “always against God's will”. 

Still others were more blunt in their pushback, with German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller calling the declaration “self-contradictory”, stating, “The Church cannot celebrate one thing and teach another.”

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Coming back to the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Archbishop Shevchuk said that his pushback against the declaration rests on the fact that it makes no mention of Eastern churches and Christians and thus only applies to the Latin Church.

He also noted differences in how the Latin and Eastern churches view the concept of ‘blessings’, stating that “the blessing of a priest or bishop is a liturgical gesture that cannot be separated from the rest of the content of the liturgical rites and reduced only to the circumstances and needs of private piety.”

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Thus, by this interpretation, a blessing cannot contradict the core teachings of the Church that do not recognise same-sex pairings in any form.

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Published December 24th, 2023 at 13:27 IST

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