The Catholic Church said it cannot bless same-sex unions, adding that it is "not licit" to bless relationships that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, according to an NBC News item.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the ruling in response to a question on whether the church has the "power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex."
The answer was "negative" and was further expanded on in an accompanying explanation that was published in seven languages and approved by Pope Francis.
However, the explanation also said that the ruling doesn't rule out blessings given to individuals with "homosexual inclinations."
In a statement sent to Windy City Times, Francis DeBernardothe executive director of New Ways Ministry, a pro-LGBTQ national Catholic ministrysaid, "It is not surprising, but still disappointing, that the Vatican has responded 'no' to the dubium about whether the church can bless same-sex unions.
"This decision though is an impotent one because it won't stop the movement to bless such couples, and, in fact, it will actually encourage Catholics in the pews and the many Catholic leaders who are eager for such blessings to happen to work harder in their supportand blessingof same-sex couples.
"Though Rome has now spoken on this issue, what the Vatican doesn't realize is that the Catholic faithful are not satisfied with the answer that they gave. 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. They recognize that God has already blessed these unions, and that a ritual is simply a recognition of God's blessing."
In a separate press release, DeBernardo listed how New Ways Ministry's website includes a list of ways that Catholics can support same-gender unions. Some suggestions are:
1. Invite gay and lesbian couples to participate in marriage preparation and enhancement programs.
2. Open bereavement support groups to lesbian and gay people whose spouses have died.
3. Acknowledge and celebrate the love and commitment of lesbian and gay couples in the same ways that heterosexual couples are affirmed. A full list is at www.newwaysministry.org/issues/marriage-equality/welcoming-married-lesbian-gay-couples/.