Blessings and the Question Of Same Sex Unions
By Father Kenneth Wasilewski
Ask any priest or deacon about giving blessings and they’re likely to tell you that they’re one of the most frequent requests made by parishioners. Whether it’s for a rosary, a house, a car, or any number of other things or events, they’re a daily reality in the Catholic Church. 
Blessings fall under the category known as “sacramentals,” which the Church understands to be “sacred signs that resemble the sacraments” that also, while not conferring grace the way the sacraments themselves do, nevertheless “prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it.” 
Likewise, the Church understands that sacramentals are a means through which “various occasions of life are sanctified.”
Sacramentals, and specifically blessings, are so abundant in the Church that for a practicing Catholic they might go practically unnoticed at times because they’re so commonplace. 
Given the role that blessings play within Catholicism, a natural question might be asked about the limits of who or what can or cannot be blessed. Looking at the Church’s Book of Blessings, one notices that there are specific blessings for any number of things — many of which are, not surprisingly, religious in nature (like scapulars or religious medals). 
But there are also specific blessings for other things which are not in and of themselves religious — from pets to fishing equipment to gymnasiums. Offering blessings for items or events which are not explicitly religious is simply a way to invoke God’s favor upon something. 
In order for something to qualify to receive a blessing, a very basic rule is that just about anything can be blessed so long as it isn’t hostile to the Christian faith or be used in opposition to it. 
Again, keep in mind that the reason for the blessing in the first place is to be better disposed to grace or ask God’s favor. It wouldn’t make sense to bless something that was by its very nature, opposed to God or God’s law. 
That being said, there are times when someone might appear to be “blessing” something which is inimical to Christianity. For example, an abortion clinic or brothel may be sprinkled with holy water or someone may pray over them. Such actions are really not blessings the same way we’re speaking of them here. Rather, they really qualify as simple forms of exorcism — asking that God end the evil taking place or bring those involved to conversion. 
In such cases, there’s a recognition of God’s law being transgressed and a desire for it to stop, not an approval of those places or activities. These distinctions are important to keep in mind.
The Church naturally also offers blessings directly to people. In fact, a large part of the Book of Blessings is occupied with these. After all, every person — even those who may lead very sinful lives — are made in the image and likeness of God. Asking God’s favor on someone who bears His image makes perfect sense. 
At the same time, blessing a person is not to be seen as a blessing upon, or approval of, anything that that person may be involved in which runs contrary to God’s law. If anything, the blessing is meant to be an aid in helping that person avoid or turn away from anything in opposition to God. 
To ask God’s favor on that which displeases Him is not only a contradiction but an abuse of the Church’s authority to offer blessings in the first place. Here again, some of the above distinctions are important. 
So why discuss the role of blessings in the Church? 
Well, recently there was a theological question posed to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the possibility of offering certain blessings, namely, to committed same-sex unions. The Vatican’s response and the reaction of certain members of the Church’s hierarchy to that response, will be the next topic of this column.