In response to widespread misconceptions arising from the publication of the document “Fiducia Supplicans” by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on December 18, 2023, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference has clarified that Catholic priests have not been granted permission to bless same-sex marriages.
The December 21 statement, issued by Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, the Catholic Bishop of Sunyani and President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, addressed the confusion emphasizing the document’s adherence to the traditional doctrine of the Church regarding marriage.
The Bishops clarified that the declaration remains firm on the Church’s traditional doctrine about marriage, explicitly stating, “this Declaration does not give Catholic priests the permission to bless same-sex marriages.” The document defines marriage as an “exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the generation of children.”
The Bishops further highlighted the distinction made in the declaration between liturgical (sacramental) blessings and pastoral blessings. Pastoral blessings, which may be given to anyone seeking God’s graces in their lives, are not exclusive, and the document states, “they are meant for everyone; no one is to be excluded from them.”
The clarification also addressed the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or altering the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage. The bishops stressed that such blessings must be simple, devoid of any elements resembling a marriage rite, and should not be performed in concurrence with civil union ceremonies.
The statement emphasized the Church’s stance that blessings for those in same-sex relationships are not intended to legitimize their way of life but to encourage conversion.