Priest Who Blessed Lesbian Couple’s Love Now Facing Church Sanctions

same-sex_couple_love_blessing_spain1_645_289_55
Fr. José García with Carmen and Lucia

A Spanish priest is facing disciplinary sanctions after blessing a same-gender couple the day before their civil marriage.

Fr. José García held a “blessing of love” for Carmen and Lucia at Saint Bartholemew Church in Onda, Spain. The July 30th ceremony was attended by their family and friends. García explained the women sought to “celebrate the love they have for God and the love which exists between them,” according to the blog Dos ManzanasThe couple was married in a civil ceremony the next day.

This blessing became public in late August when a conservative Spanish new outlet posted about it, eliciting a response from the Diocese of Segorbe-Castellón. Acknowledging first that lesbian and gay people should not be discriminated against, the diocese’s statement quoted Pope Francis in saying “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 [Amoris Laetitia, no. 251].”

According to the statement. Fr. García was then visited by both the diocese’s Vicar General and Bishop Casmiro López Llorent who demanded an explanation from the priest. The diocese said Fr. García admitted to the bishop the “grave error” of his actions, saying they were motivated by “an erroneous application of mercy” that “did not distinguish the welcome and pastoral accompaniment of persons” from what may seem like approval of same-gender marriage.

The statement reported that the priest apologized to people who considered the blessing scandalous, and he promised not to act similarly in the future. But recanting is seemingly not enough for Bishop López, reported Euro Weekly. The diocese has opened a canonical investigation against Fr. García to see whether formal sanctions should be applied for blessing the love between two people.

Critics of the diocese’s actions have noted the differing speeds with which this case and clerical sexual abuse allegations have been dealt with. Loottis, a Spanish LGBT blog, wrote:

“What is amazing is the speed with which the diocese of Segorbe-Castellón has reacted to this case and in contrast to other scandals which starred members of the Church as happened with the scandal of ‘The Romanones’ in Granada in which several priests were accused of abusing minors for years and the Spanish hierarchy hurried from the first moment to preserve the innocence of the priests involved.”

Loottis noted, too, that Bishop López has made LGBT-negative remarks in the past. In 2013, he said marriage equality had led to a “significant increase in children with severe personality disturbances” and that families led by lesbian and gay people created environments that “frequently ends in violence.”

It is quite sad that the diocese has punished Fr. García so severely, and that more sanctions may be coming. Media reports have been limited to the diocese’s account as the priest has either largely chosen to keep quiet or been silenced. But the limited statements he has made, explaining this incident as a blessing that celebrates love of God and between two people speaks volumes.

If the church blesses animals, ships, church vestments, eggs, and so much more, why are ministers barred from blessing the holy love that exists between two people? The hierarchy’s opposition to same-gender marriages is well known. But blessing love and supporting couples is precisely the type of pastoral accompaniment to which Pope Francis has called the church, even if such relationships do not conform to the heteronormative standards of the Magisterium. There is no love which is wrong, and there is no love outside God’s embrace.

The good news is that God clearly blesses the love between Carmen and Lucia, and their desire to have that love blessed in the church acknowledges their reciprocal love for God. Priests should not be punished for recognizing these realities, and being good pastoral ministers to LGBT people who have been marginalized. The only “grave error” in this incident will be if the canonical investigation now underway were to imperil Fr. García’s priesthood because he was simply a good priest.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 

9 thoughts on “Priest Who Blessed Lesbian Couple’s Love Now Facing Church Sanctions

  1. John Hilgeman September 8, 2016 / 1:40 am

    Ah yes. It’s ok to bless dogs & cats, gerbils & rats. But its scandalous to bless loving same gender couples. Go figure.

  2. Ryan Sattler September 8, 2016 / 9:30 am

    Doesn’t Pope Francis read Bondings 2.0 every morning? How can he turn his back and/or remain silent when these situations continue to happen. Thanks to the hierarchy of our church, Bondings 2.0 won’t run out of stories to share.

    • Wilhelm Wonka September 8, 2016 / 2:01 pm

      In Amoris Laetitia, Francis sees nothing of value, morally and otherwise, in same-sex love.

  3. Isn’t it Church teaching that a man and woman getting married in the Church bless the priest and the other witnesses, not the other way around? If this were the focus, gay couples’ commitments can be experienced as a blessing to any witnesses, including a priest. No need to get into the question of the sacrament of marriage; rather a way to avoid polarizing the Church by emulating Pope Francis’ pastoral welcome to all people…”Who am I to judge?”

  4. Felix Xavier September 8, 2016 / 12:50 pm

    Sadly, it reminds me of what happened to French bishop Jacques Gaillot.

  5. Janelle Lazzo September 8, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    My heart is warmed by the action and intention of this pastor. He did not witness the marriage of this couple, if that official action is what would supposedly “scandalize” people. He witnessed the love of two persons, both created by God to be the individuals they are. What a shocking double standard this speedy condemnatory action by the diocese is compared with reported foot-dragging in the past when considering sexual misconduct by priests, which violates every understanding of “loving.” Actions like this make me wonder constantly how the Church reconciles actions like this with the loving message of Jesus.

  6. Jeffrey Liakos September 9, 2016 / 5:37 pm

    2 men, 2 women, 1 man and 1 woman-what does it matter what the sexual orientation of the pair is? If someone is not into a same sex romantic relationships, they should just not be in one.

  7. Joey September 10, 2016 / 8:26 am

    It always takes big, cumbersome corporations longer to make necessary changes in attitudes and operations…. but eventually they will get there. Women eventually were recognized as people!!!

  8. Jeffrey Liakos September 12, 2016 / 4:11 pm

    Joey, you are so right. What are your views on same sex marriage?

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