On March 14th, the Vatican office that manages doctrine announced that the Catholic Church is not authorized to bless same-sex unions.
A former priest in Argentina, Andrés Gioeni, formally disavowed his Catholicism after the Vatican’s decree. In recent years, Gioeni became an LGBTQ activist lobbying for a more open Catholic Church. He has blessed same-sex unions in Argentina, where Pope Francis was born and initially became part of the Catholic Church.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) said it is "impossible" for God to "bless sin.” However, the CDF noted the “positive elements” of same-sex unions.
In a documentary that aired in October 2020, Pope Francis stated that he believes that same-sex couples should not be denied “civil unions.” Before assuming the papacy, Francis supported protection for LGBTQ in civil unions in Argentina, where he was once the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
After Pope Benedict XVI resigned in 2013, Bergoglio was elected to be his successor. Until recently, Pope Francis advocated for the Church to be open and more welcoming for the LGBT community; he favored same-sex couples attaining legal recognition.
The ex-priest, Gioeni, was interviewed by the Associated Press at his home, where his husband, Louis Iarocci, and their three dogs live together only a few blocks away from the cathedral in San Isidro.
After Gioeni’s ordination earlier in life, he thrived at the church while secretly linking with the gay community via social media. He broke off the first relationship he had with a man after engaging in consensual sex so he could continue his priesthood. But later, he reencountered the man.
He worked as a waiter in a disco where he met his husband and first sexual encounter, Iarocci. They’ve been together for 17 years.
Gioeni was stunned by the Holy See's proclamation, which contends clergy members may not bless LGBTQ unions because they are not part of God’s divine plan. And God “cannot bless sin.”
He said, “I do not want to continue being an accomplice to this institution because I realize the harm they are doing to people. I am not renouncing my faith in God, but rather I am renouncing a role and a rite.”
As a priest, Gioeni had blessed more than a few same-sex unions. He said, “There is no mention in any book (of the Bible) of consensual love between two people of the same sex and God telling them no.”
Other LGBTQ Catholics in the United States were not surprised by the CDF’s declaration that the church cannot bless same-sex unions, yet it was painful all the same.
The executive director of DignityUSA, Marianne Duddy-Burke, responded by explaining how same-sex couples at her organization, some of who have been together for decades, held-on to their love for one another despite family rejection and religious bias.
“The fact that our church at its highest levels cannot recognize the grace in that and cannot extend any sort of blessing to these couples is just tragic,” Duddy-Burke said.