SINGAPORE: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Singapore has once again clarified that the Church does not endorse same-gender unions in a statement aimed at correcting the misinterpretation that the Church has changed its stance on its traditional doctrine about marriage.

The misconception concerns how the latest Vatican declaration, “On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings”, was worded and approved by Pope Francis.

In a statement released by his office, Singapore’s Archbishop, Cardinal William Goh, said that “the focus of the Declaration is not on the blessing of the unions of same-gender couples. Rather, it provides guidance in making a distinction between the Church’s official blessings and a pastoral blessing for all occasions outside the liturgical and sacramental setting.”

Noting that pastoral blessings are ad-lib prayers offered spontaneously, unlike approved official prayers, Cardinal Goh said:

“We are not blessing the unions of same-s*x couples. We are blessing couples who are in irregular situations such as those who are divorced and remarried, individuals struggling to be faithful to God’s commandments, and those who aborted their babies, just as we bless the sick, the elderly, and those who request spiritual and temporal blessings. We do not bless the sins of the person, but rather, the individual who is always loved by God, even when he or she is a sinner.”

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He added that the Church “wants everyone, without exemption, to receive God’s blessings for good health, loving relationships, financial security, and most of all their spiritual growth in understanding, discerning, and accepting the will of God in their lives as taught in scripture and by the Church.”

The statement made clear that instead of endorsing the blessing of “irregular marriages and same-s*x unions,” the latest Vatican declaration “sets out the rules and boundaries for priests as to how they should bless these couples without having these blessings mistaken by others as the Church’s approval of such unions.”

The Archbishop’s office went on to call the Declaration “a prayer” for those who are struggling and “the Church’s way of showing mercy, love, and compassion for those struggling through difficult situations and coming to terms with the demands of the Gospel.”

The statement clarified, “We are grateful that the Holy Father has authorised this Declaration so that Church ministers will not act in a way that gives others the wrong impression that the Church endorses same-gender unions. At the same time, it shows the Church’s mercy and love for all sinners and that we are all sinners endeavouring to grow in authenticity and perfection.

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Last year, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore reiterated the Church’s position that “marriage is between a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love, where both partners complement each other.”

While the Church said it respects the dignity of LGBTQ persons, it called on the community to also “respect our rights to maintain our position on marriage and that the family unit comprises a father, mother, and their children.”

It also said that the Catholic Church’s concern is for marriage between a man and a woman “to remain the institution of nature that is safeguarded and even enshrined in the Constitution of the country as the natural structure of human society.”

Three years prior to this statement, the Singapore Archdiocese made headlines for expressing support for Pink Dot and urging Singaporeans to accept the LGBTQ community.

In a 2019 Instagram post, the church wrote: “The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear that persons who experience same-gender attractions “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (CCC 2358)”

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The church wrote that while the Catholic faith does not condone homos*xual acts, its followers are “asked to see the other, no matter his/her situation in life, as a beloved child of God.” It continued:

“We are not to shun anyone with same-s*x attraction or gender dysphoria, but to “accompany with mercy”: to walk with him/her in friendship and prayer, patiently witnessing to them of God’s love.

“It does not mean endorsing choices that contradict our Faith. But neither does it mean imposing our agenda upon that person or condemning them when s/he does not do as we wish.”

The church added that “understanding and appreciating God’s beautiful plan for human s*xuality will help us accompany our same-gender attracted friends and relatives with compassion and mercy, always true and faithful to the teachings of the Church.”