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The Catholic Church announced last week that the Vatican cannot bless same sex unions despite Pope Francis’ October statement calling for civil union laws for LGBTQ+ couples. According to the Vatican, no matter how devout and positive these relationships are, God “cannot bless sin.”

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows the Catholic Church. It serves merely as a reminder of the Vatican’s roots.

It is the 21st century and the Catholic Church — the arbiter of morality for 1.2 billion people — still views LGBTQ+ relationships as sinful. The Pope can welcome gay Catholics into the church until he’s blue in the face, but that won't matter as long as their marriages are deemed affronts to God.

The Catholic Church announced last week that the Vatican cannot bless same sex unions despite Pope Francis’ October statement calling for civil union laws for LGBTQ+ couples. According to the Vatican, no matter how devout and positive these relationships are, God “cannot bless sin.”

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows the Catholic Church. It serves merely as a reminder of the Vatican’s roots.

It is the 21st century and the Catholic Church — the arbiter of morality for 1.2 billion people — still views LGBTQ+ relationships as sinful. The Pope can welcome gay Catholics into the church until he’s blue in the face, but that won’t matter as long as their marriages are deemed affronts to God.

This isn’t a mere statement by the Church but an affirmation of the teachings of the Catechism.

The doctrines of the Catechism call homosexual acts “disordered.” Simply put, the Catholic Church doesn’t view the relationships — or even the lives — of LGBTQ+ members as equal to their heterosexual parishioners.

No matter how many times you claim it’s not unjust discrimination, you cannot claim to welcome a community if you deny them the basic rights and privileges others are granted freely.

Claiming that same-sex couples are invalid and do not form loving relationships is an absurd statement. A same-sex couple is just as capable of love and compassion as any straight couple.

In the eyes of the Catholic Church, the love of two of the most kind hearted men I have ever met is deemed a sin.

My maternal uncle Peter Rosen and his husband Andrew Jimenez have been married for nearly three years in a relationship that I can best describe as unconditionally loving.

Jimenez himself was raised a Catholic, questioning his own sexuality through the lens of the Church since he was a child.

“For many years while I still considered myself Catholic, it was about hiding that part of my identity,” Jimenez explained. “I had a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and I, multiple times, went to that book to look up homosexuality and it made it very clear that the Church viewed that as a sin and to act on that is a sin.”

Jimenez began looking outside of the doctrines of the Catholic Church for the answer to his identity that the Vatican wasn’t capable of answering. He felt that he needed another doctrine that was more capable of accommodating his identity.

“I saw that there were other perspectives to religion that did not require me to hide my identity in order to live a different life,” he said. “Through Peter I was introduced to Judaism and a way to keep tradition and values in a home.”

It pains Jimenez to know that there are young LGBTQ+ people in the Church that think it is impossible to “live life as a gay, happy spiritual person.”

This is nothing new. The Church has been consistent in its messaging about LGBTQ+ individuals for years. But that doesn’t make it right to strip away someone’s happiness or their sense of belonging based on who they love.

“Every time they come out with a reinforcement of that message as the years go by, it seems so obviously out of touch,” Jimenez said. “The Catholic Church will come to a point of reckoning on this. In the meantime, they will continue to lose LGBTQ+ people when they realize they can live a spiritual life outside of the Church. That’s the Catholic Church’s loss.”

While there are denominations of every religion that allows more liberal interpretations of scripture, Catholicism is very much rigid in its interpretation, especially in relation to LGBTQ+ matters.

Jimenez feels that every person has to “grow up a bit” and find their own path to see what suits them.

“There’s a whole host of options you can take,” he said. “The church you came from may not like that, the family you came from may not like that, but that is what speaks to you. Take the path that you feels betters yourself and others.”

For many like Jimenez, the Catholic Church played a role in every facet of life growing up. It was daily prayer, Mass on Sunday and blessings at every meal.

It is nearly impossible to come to terms with who you are if every aspect of your world is telling you it’s wrong.

Jimenez is currently seeking excommunication from the Catholic Church to more fully align with his Jewish identity. According to the Catholic Church’s canon laws, living in a same-sex civil union can be grounds for automatic excommunication — although the practice is hardly used. It’s a damn shame that the Catholic Church requires same-sex couples to get wiped from its records just because they choose to get married.

“The Catholic Church wants to have it both ways,” Jimenez explained. “They want to say, ‘here are these people committing these sins’ and say they’re not going to bless them, but they still want to be the largest denomination of Christianity. From my perspective, you can’t have it both ways. In a perfect world, I would start some non-profit to help gay people to send letters to their churches to ask to be excommunicated.”

The experience of my uncle is not a unique one. There are Catholics — and practitioners of other religions — around the world who identify as LGBTQ+ and feel they are unable to live a spiritual life and be happily married as a result. No one should see their beliefs tell them they don’t deserve to be happy, be it in Buddhist, Catholic or Jewish theology.

The Catholic Church may never reform to allow same-sex marriage. With an institution that extends back to the Roman Empire, change isn’t something you should expect. What the Catholic Church will lose in this inaction is thousands of LGBTQ+ members being told they are living in sin. Telling an entire community that they are sin incarnate is not exactly a stirring endorsement for your church.

If Catholicism is about loving God’s creation, then no love should be deemed sinful, no matter if it’s between a man and a woman or a same-sex couple. Why should we discriminate and distinguish between that beautifully complicated thing we call love?

Domenic Purdy is a 20-year-old journalism sophomore from Prairieville.

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