Catholic group for LGBTQ people praises news about same-sex marriage blessings

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich also welcomes it, saying it will help more people ‘feel the closeness and compassion of God.’

The Vatican’s announcement Monday that Roman Catholic priests may bless same-sex relationships was most welcome news to a Chicago-based ministry.

"It's exciting to get such affirming news like this today," said Rick Guasco, co-director of Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach.

AGLO is chartered by the Archdiocese of Chicago for ministry to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other people.

"For AGLO, like everyone else, we are still (determining) what it is going to look like and what it means for us going forward," Guasco said.

Guasco comes from a deeply religious family and said his faith has helped him, particularly with his 30-year HIV diagnosis.

"I felt affirmed by my church in a way I never felt," he said of the announcement.

Guasco is single and not in a relationship, "and yet I feel so uplifted by this."

"It acknowledges LGBTQ people do have strong, committed relationships, just like everybody else can," he said.

A blessing on a relationship asks that good things come as a result, much like blessings requested in other situations, he said.

He acknowledged the announcement does not authorize the Catholic sacrament of marriage for LGBTQ people.

"Change does not happen overnight. It happens gradually, and we have to work toward it," Guasco said.

Cardinal Blase Cupich released a written statement on Monday night.

“Here in the Archdiocese of Chicago, we welcome this declaration, which will help many more in our community feel the closeness and compassion of God,” Cupich said.

“At the heart of the (”Fiducia supplicans“) Declaration is a call for pastors to take a pastoral approach by being available to people who, while not claiming a legitimation of their own status, recognize their need for God’s help and ‘who beg that all that is true, good, and humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit,’ ” Cupich wrote, quoting from the Declaration.

“As such, the Declaration is a step forward, and in keeping not only with Pope Francis’s desire to accompany people pastorally but Jesus’s desire to be present to all people who desire grace and support,” Cupich wrote.

He reiterated that the same rules apply to same-sex couples as to any couple in what the Catholic Church calls an “irregular situation.”

That means the blessing cannot be performed in concurrence with a civil union ceremony, or with any clothing, gestures or words that are proper to a wedding, according to the Declaration. Irregular situations include divorced people who remarry without having their first marriage annulled by the church, for example.

Blessings could take place “in other contexts, such as a visit to a shrine, a meeting with a priest, a prayer recited in a group, or during a pilgrimage, according to the Declaration.

The archdiocese serves Catholics in Cook and Lake counties.

Spokesmen for the Rockford and Joliet dioceses have not responded to multiple requests for comment. DuPage County Catholic parishes are in the Joliet Diocese. Parishes in Kane and McHenry counties are in the Rockford Diocese.

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