After Pope Francis Decision, Rev Fr. Martin Becomes First Catholic Priest To Bless Same-Sex Marriage.

After Pope Francis Decision, Rev Fr. Martin Becomes First Catholic Priest To Bless Same-Sex Marriage


After Pope Francis Decision, Rev Fr. Martin Becomes First Catholic Priest To Bless Same-Sex Marriage

Never before, though, was he permitted to bless a same-sex couple — not until Monday, when the pope said he would allow such blessings, an announcement that reverberated through the church.

After Pope Francis Decision, Rev Fr. Martin Becomes First Catholic Priest To Bless Same-Sex Marriage

As a Jesuit priest for more than two decades, the Rev. James Martin has bestowed thousands of blessings — on rosary beads, on babies, on homes, boats, and meals, on statues of saints, on the sick, on brides and on grooms.

 

Never before, though, was he permitted to bless a same-sex couple — not until Monday, when the pope said he would allow such blessings, an announcement that reverberated through the church.

 In keeping with the Vatican’s admonition that such a blessing should not be performed with “any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding,” Father Martin wore no robes, and read from no text. There is no blessing for same-sex couples in the thick book of blessings published by the U.S. Conference of Bishops. Instead he selected a favorite of his own from the Old Testament.


“May the Lord bless and keep you,” Father Martin began, touching the two men’s shoulders. They bowed their heads slightly, and held hands.
“May the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his countenance to you and give you joy and peace.

may almighty God bless you,” he said, making the sign of the cross, “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

And then, with emotion evident on their faces, the three men hugged.
Father Martin is arguably the highest-profile advocate for L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics in America. He has met frequently with Pope Francis about making the Roman Catholic Church more inclusive, and in the fall he participated in a global gathering on the church’s future at the pope’s invitation.


On Tuesday morning, he was far from the halls of power. He was at home, making history. Father Martin had waited years for the privilege of saying such a prayer, however simple, out in the open.


“It was really nice,” Father Martin said on Tuesday, “to be able to do that publicly.”

The pope’s decision was greeted as a landmark victory by advocates for gay Catholics, who describe it as a significant gesture of openness and pastoral care, and a reminder that an institution whose age is measured in millenniums can change.

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The decision does not overturn the church’s doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman. It does not allow priests to perform same-sex marriages. It takes pains to differentiate between the sacrament of marriage — which must take place in a church — and a blessing, which is a more informal, even spontaneous, gesture. And, a priest’s blessing of a same-sex couple should not take place in connection with a civil marriage ceremony, it says.

 

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