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For Utah’s LGBTQ Catholics, pope’s same-sex couple blessings signal a church open to all

A rainbow shines over St.Peter's Square at the Vatican, on Jan. 31, 2021.
Alessandra Tarantino/AP
A rainbow shines over St.Peter's Square at the Vatican, on Jan. 31, 2021.

Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, approved priests to bless same-sex couples in a new Vatican document. KPCW spoke with Utah Catholics about the change.

The announcement Monday, Dec. 18, marks a radical change in the Catholic Church’s stance toward its LGBTQ members, with the pope saying all Catholics should be able to receive blessings.

Nothing in the new document changes the Vatican’s teaching on marriage: that it’s between a man and a woman and homosexual acts are considered to be “intrinsically disordered.”

Still, Cami Richardson, a transgender Catholic in Park City, said she’s glad to hear the news.

“I’m glad to see that the pope has made that decision,” she said. “I think it will help those Catholics that have lost some of their faith in the church… and I hope at some point the church itself will allow same-sex people to be married within the church.”

The Vatican emphasized blessings shouldn’t look like a marriage for same-sex couples, or even take place at the same time as a civil union.

Father Christopher Gray, the pastor of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Park City, said the point of the document is that blessings should be shared with all believers.

“The idea of this document is not to present a blessing at the time of a union or something that looks or feels like a wedding,” he said, “but rather an openness and a closeness to people who find themselves in irregular situations.”

Father Bob Bussen, a Catholic priest who lives in Park City, said some Catholics may say the change undermines church teaching on homosexuality.

“There are those who are opponents of the pope who will be absolutely furious at this,” he said.

But he said the pope’s announcement will make a difference in the lives of the LGBTQ faithful.

“It’s natural to us as a Catholic church to bless,” he said. “We had excluded gay people from that right to receive blessings – it’s terrible. And so what the pope has allowed is now saying gay people should be just as easily blessed as everyone else.”

He said he is “delighted” about Pope Francis’s announcement and would be glad to bless LGBTQ Catholic couples in Park City.

And Allen Miller said he and his husband, Eleandro, were happy to hear the news from the Vatican.

“It just so happens that it’s our eighth wedding anniversary, so it’s particularly meaningful for us,” he said.

Miller said his husband is as excited as he is: he’s already making plans for a vow renewal and a blessing for the couple to share.

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