Last week’s Vatican statement upholding a ban on same-sex blessings has sparked further criticism in Ireland. Father Gerry O’Connor of the Association of Catholic Priests said she had “left a sour mark”.
The pastor of Dublin, Father Adrian Egan, said regardless of what the Vatican said: “Our gay brothers and sisters will always be welcome in the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady in Ballyfermot”.
Meanwhile, the liberal group We Are Church Ireland described the Vatican’s declaration as an “act of violence, spiritual abuse”.
Father O’Connor said, “The beauty of a blessing is that it doesn’t see barriers or distances. . . There is no judgment or harsh perception directed towards you. “What the Vatican” had to say about people in loving same-sex unions, the Vatican’s attitude towards blessings, leaves a sour mark, “he said.
In a tweet, Father Egan said, “Let me be absolutely clear. . . Our gay brothers and sisters will always be welcome in the Church of the Assumption. . . Your presence is a blessing to our community. . . and as the banner in front of our church says: “God’s house, your home”. . . Everyone is welcome in this place. “
We Are Church Ireland described the Vatican’s statement as “both theologically flawed and out of date, and deeply pastorally deficient. Many Catholic LGBTQ + people experience it as an act of violence, spiritual abuse, an attack on their kindness and love. Many others are repulsed by his language. “
It was “unworthy of a church” and “discouraging to see how Pope Francis signs it,” it said. The group urged Irish priests and bishops to follow the example of bishops and priests in other countries who have rejected the declaration and pledged to continue to bless same-sex unions.
The Vatican’s statement “mocks any talk of synodality and inclusivity,” the group said.
Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin said that when it comes to same-sex blessings it is best “to deal with these situations individually and pastorally”. In his first interview last January after his appointment as archbishop was announced, he told the newspaper that the difficulty with same-sex blessings is that they are very often misunderstood as marriage. Priests have given these blessings in the past. “
He recalled the experience of a colleague: “He used to have this blessing of the rings ceremony – I said to him, ‘I have no problem with the blessing of the rings if you do this in this house, but if you walk into them Public, go to a church and bless the rings as you see them. ‘You showed up with 200 people and saw it as a marriage. Sometimes people use this language. You are in confusion there. It can be misunderstood as “Yes, the priest married us”. “
Regarding the Church’s use of words such as “objectively disturbed” and “tendency to evil” in describing homosexuality, he said it was “a technical description. People then get it wrong because it is a technical-theological language. “
He agreed, however, that such language in popular culture “presents a difficulty that sometimes translates into violence against people who they find to be highly prejudiced”.