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2021-MAR: The Vatican bars gay civil unions.
2021-APR: Finnish member of Parliament faces
criminal charges for writings on Same Sex marriage.

During 2020-OCT, a documentary film "Francesco" was released. In it. Pope Francis expressed his support for same-sex civil unions. He said that the Church's esteem for marriage and celibacy:

"... does not require the exclusion of people who responsibly live out love, faithfulness, and mutual care in same-sex partnerships or in a remarriage after divorce."

During 2011-JAN and FEB, over 260 Catholic theologians, mainly from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, signed a memorandum called Church 2011, which said that the Church's esteem for marriage and celibacy "does not require the exclusion of people who responsibly live out love, faithfulness, and mutual care in same-sex partnerships or in a remarriage after divorce".

On 2021-MAR-15, the Vatican contradicted the above two points of view and declared that the Roman Catholic Church cannot and will not bless same-sex civil unions.

Their reasoning is based on their belief that God "cannot bless sin." Their answer was published in a two-page explanation written by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in response to a question asked of the Church by an unknown person or group. Their answer was approved by Pope Francis, and published in seven languages. It stated that same-sex unions are not part of God's plan. Further, If there were any sacramental recognition of such unions, people might confuse them with the marriages of opposite-sex people.

The Vatican's explanation said, in part:

"... 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 ecclesiastical 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."

God "... 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."

Marianne Duddy-Burke is the executive director of DignityUSA. She said that her organization’s membership includes same-sex couples who have been together for decades, persevering in their love for one another in the face of bias and family rejection.

She said:

"The fact that our church at its highest levels cannot recognize the grace in that and cannot extend any sort of blessing to these couples is just tragic."

Associated Press writers David Crary in New York, Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines wrote an article in Microsoft News describing the Vatican's response, and reactions to it. Their article referred to a comment by Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry. That group promotes greater acceptance of gays and lesbians in the church. DeBernardo predicted the Vatican position would be ignored by some Catholic clergy and others.

He said in a statement that:

"Catholic people recognize the holiness of the love between committed same-sex couples and recognize this love as divinely inspired and divinely supported and thus meets the standard to be blessed."

On MAR-16, Don Lemon spoke on CNN, saying that he is critical when religious groups hurt:

"... another person or does not give someone the same rights or freedoms, [because] God is not about hindering people or even judging people.

"I think that that’s wrong and I think that the Catholic Church and many other churches really need to reexamine themselves and their teachings because that is not what God is about."

"So I would say to the Pope and the Vatican and all Christians or Catholics or whomever, whatever religion you believe out, you happen to belong to out there, ‘Go out and meet people and try to understand people and do what the Bible and Jesus actually said if you believe in Jesus, and that is to love your fellow man and judge not lest ye be not judged."

Many representatives of LGBT groups, including Dignity USA, GLAAD, and New Ways Ministry, were quoted in an article in Time Magazine with additional negative views on the Vatican's statement." For example, Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League said:

"There will be no recognition of homosexual unions or marriage by the Catholic Church. It is non-negotiable. End of story."

Of course, the vast majority of Roman Catholics across the world will accept the teachings of the CDF.

2020-MAY: Finland's Member of Parliament, Dr. Päivi Räsänen, faces six year jail sentence:

She is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and a former chair of the Christian Democrats political party. Charges against her involve her sharing her opinion on marriage and human sexuality in a tweet, on television and in a pamphlet. Each charge can result in a two year jail sentence if she is found guilty.

ADF International, who is representing her, issued her statement. She said, in part:

"I cannot accept that voicing my religious beliefs could mean imprisonment. I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering or insulting anyone. My statements were all based on the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality. ... I will not back down from my views. I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith. The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets."

Paul Coleman, the International Executive Director of ADF, added:

"Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of democracy."

"The Finnish Prosecutor General’s decision to bring these charges against Dr. Räsänen creates a culture of fear and censorship. It is sobering that such cases are becoming all too common throughout Europe. If committed civil servants like Päivi Räsänen are criminally charged for voicing their deeply held beliefs, it creates a chilling effect for everyone’s right to speak freely."

One of the charges is based on a 2019 tweet which involved Romans 24:27: The NIV translation of the Bible renders the verses as:

"Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

Originally written: 2021-MAR-15.
Most recent update: APR-03.
Author: B.A. Robinson

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