Student Life Editor
On Monday, March 15, the Vatican declared a gay union in marriage cannot be blessed in union.
The statement from the Vatican clarified and stated in seven different languages that a priest cannot bless the union of a same-sex marriage, because it is a sin.
The statement from the Vatican came in response to the German church’s questioning on whether or not they could bless a homosexual union.
Campus minister at the Newman Center Rev. Cindy Cheshire spoke more on the subject of how the Catholic church views marriage. Cheshire said, “Sacramental theology, especially the theology around marriage, has specific preconditions for a marriage being sacramentally valid. And for it being, for lack of a better word, like a true marriage.”
In order to have a “true marriage” both sides have to be absolved from sin in the eyes of the Church. Cheshire explained, “If one or both of the parties is previously divorced, but it hasn’t been enabled in the church, then that the subsequent second marriage isn’t a sacramentally valid marriage because it doesn’t meet the preconditions.” Cheshire elaborated on different scenarios that also fall within the same umbrella. Cheshire said, “If you’re married, and you’re of two different faiths entirely, that is not a sacramental marriage because of the ontological things that are going on. So, in a similar way, [the] current teaching [is] marriages between two people of the same gender are not a sacramental marriage, and therefore the blessing is [just on] the civil union.”
In terms of what the future of the Catholic Church looks like, Cheshire said, “Among the faithful, [that] this is this is an issue that needs to be confronted that many people in the pews are not happy with the way that the Church currently speaks about this, and that they are really asking for an urging conversation about it… LGBTQ ministries [that] have made statements about this [topic], and have highlighted this work for years.”
When asked for her views on the statement Cheshire said, “[I’m] not surprised by it, in part because it is the function of the CDF (The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) to repeat, already present teaching. So they were never going to come out with new doctrine. They weren’t all of a sudden going to say, ‘oh, here’s an entire new liturgy.’ That’s not what that body does in the church… But, I was also disappointed at the lack of compassion, and the lack of pastoral care, in the wording of the document.” Statements from the Vatican like these rarely do not have a rippling effect among communities. Assistant Director of Clinical Operations Beth Aronson said she believes the decree will receive pushback from the community.
Aronson said “It leaves people in a position where they are not having the public support and encouragement for maintaining a healthy relationship.” Aronson said her analysis of the statement comes from a mental health perspective instead of a theologian approach. Aronson explained “I think it indirectly supports prejudice. I don’t think you can have that statement about sin in there and not bolster the people who use that term in a way that causes pain.” Aronson thinks the ripples from this statement will be felt throughout the clergy. “I think there will be people who push back then get disciplined for that. Just like there are priests who allowed women to preach even though the Vatican said it was wrong. I think there will also be clergy who leave the Catholic church over this.”
Keene State College’s community reacted to the news, with Keene State dining commons employee Joshua Erickson saying, “I think, frankly, it’s kind of ridiculous. I mean, given the day and age we’re living in, it’s something we would have been past by now, honestly. I’d like to know their reasoning. I’m sure they have their biblical and spiritual reasons, but I’d like to hear something more than that.”
Erickson said, even though the statement from the Vatican does not prevent homosexual unions, this does not change his position on the matter. Erickson said, “Being gay is not a choice. It’s not a choice you make, so effectively punishing someone for being who they are is a little monstrous, I guess.”
Previously, in the documentary “Franceso” Pope Francis said “homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God too.” Erickson said this backing of traditional values “flies right in the face” of the pope’s previous statements.
Keene State student Alexander Soucy said, “I think it’s stupid. It’s 2021– you’d think the church would be more progressive than that by [now], [but] clearly not, I know the pope had said some things previously that kind of hinted at the Catholic Church maybe accepting gay marriage at one point [but] clearly they have backed off from that now.” Soucy agreed that this updated standpoint does contradict the pope’s previous statements on the matter, even if the Vatican is clarifying it is only in the eyes of the Church about whether or not the bond is blessed or not.
Tim Wagner can be contacted at: