Philadelphia, Pa., Feb 8, 2018 / 03:18 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia has penned a letter to priests and deacons in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, addressing the possibility of blessing rites for same-sex couples.
“I want to remind us all that under no circumstances may a priest or deacon of the archdiocese take part in, witness or officiate at any civil union of same-sex persons, or any religious ceremony that seeks to bless such an event,” Archbishop Chaput wrote in a Feb. 7 letter, which was obtained by CNA.
“This in no way is a rejection of the persons seeking such a union, but rather a refusal to ignore what we know to be true about the nature of marriage, the family, and the dignity of human sexuality,” he continued.
Chaput’s words come amidst controversy surrounding recent remarks from senior German church leaders who have implied support over same-sex union blessings.
In January, Father Johannes Zu Eltz, the city-dean of the Catholic Church in Frankfurt, stated that the Church should consider “theologically founded blessing ceremonies” for couples who do not meet standard requirements for marriage in the Church, which would include same-sex unions.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, spoke out on Feb. 3, saying that while “there are no general solutions,” the question of blessing homosexual couples should be left to “pastor on the ground.”
“We are talking about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies to other areas as well, which we cannot regulate, where we have no sets of rules,” Cardinal Marx stated.
“The imprudence in these public statements has been deeply concerning,” Chaput wrote to his clergy.
“As you know, blessing persons in their particular form of life effective encourages them in that state– in this case, same-sex sexual unions,” he added.
In a Feb. 6 column for Catholic Philly, Chaput further noted the Church’s reasoning behind its stance on same-sex unions and their blessings.
“There is no love – no charity – without truth, just as there is no real mercy separated from a framework of justice informed and guided by truth,” he wrote.
Additionally, Chaput’s column offered two principles for consideration.
“First, we need to treat all people with the respect and pastoral concern they deserve as children of God with inherent dignity,” he said, noting that this “emphatically includes persons with same-sex attraction.”
“Second, there is no truth, no real mercy, and no authentic compassion in blessing a course of action that leads persons away from God.”
Chaput also wrote that every individual has the “right to hear the truth,” which may, at times, be uncomfortable. He said leaders of the Church must be “clear, honest and prudent in what they do and say,” so as not to cause confusion.
“Jesus said the truth will make us free,” Chaput wrote. “We still need to hear the truth clearly – and share it, clearly, always with love.”
“Creating confusion around important truths of our faith, no matter how positive the intention, only make a difficult task more difficult.”