A recent Vatican declaration has sent waves through the Roman Catholic Church in a big way. The Vatican declared that “same-sex unions are a sin the Roman Catholic Church cannot bless,” much to the disappointment of LGBTQ Catholics across the globe. This move comes after Pope Francis previously positioned towards being friendlier with the LGBTQ community in previous years through supporting legal protections of gay couples. The LGBTQ community has a presence in many Catholic communities even though the current consensus can be acidic towards their proclamation of love. The news stung the LGBTQ hard partly because the statement came from the congregation for the Diocese of the Faith(The Vatican’s orthodoxy office), which places gay couples in the crosshairs of the church’s foundations.
LGBTQ activists and Catholics responded almost immediately to this combative declaration. Francis DeBernardo, a ministry director that advocates for greater LGBTQ acceptance in the church, expressed dismay at the recent news. According to Francis, the Catholic laity might start stepping into the place of the church since the practices of blessing gay marriages will not just disappear after they have already happened in many places. Natalia Imperatori-lee, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, exclaimed that the new statement has problems because the church now says that people are created in the image of God except for their inclinations to love. Another lighter view on the new declaration was expressed by Simone Campbell, an executive director of a Catholic Social Justice organization. According to Simone, the new doctrine simply says the divine contract cannot be blessed, but the people can still receive blessings.
Regardless of how people view the new declaration, the statement will have issues in a 21st-century world. LGBTQ rights are being pushed by many groups now, and the general acceptance of gay marriage has even reached Catholic congregations. The announcement also comes at a time in which hate speech is on the rise in many countries. This bad timing places a church in a position where they could encourage anti-gay groups to step up action due to the divine blessing of the church. The church should be more careful with their declarations if they seek to gain influence among the younger generation.
Many churches have already complained about losing members in recent years, and this measure will not help. The newer generation is less likely to support hard-conservative turns in the church doctrine given the social environment they grew up in. Churches might start losing gay members due to this doctrine, and this will accelerate the damage done to many congregations in influential areas. The Vatican has clearly shown that it does not align with its members and will not even try to connect with them.
A church of the future could be even more conservative with even older members in a few years. Younger members may still join the church through their families, but once they reach a certain age, they might bounce due to the huge difference in generations. Why would someone want to be part of a congregation that demonizes their friends for their love interests?
The church can decide to rebuff the LGBTQ community, but times have changed since 200 years ago. People of today are not bound to the church for their circle of friends. If a gay person is denied a home in the congregation, they will go elsewhere in the modern world to seek more accepting people. Church policies no longer set the terms for society, so the church must move forward or get left behind. This latest move only reinforces the common view that the church is an old and out-of-touch institution that is no longer divine and holy as it once was.