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After Vatican says same-sex unions cannot be blessed, White House reaffirms Biden’s support for them

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While the White House on Monday would not respond to the Vatican’s statement on marriage, press secretary Jen Psaki said that President Biden supports same-sex unions.

On Monday, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a response to a question on the Church’s power to bless same-sex unions. The CDF said that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions or any relations “that involve sexual activity outside of marriage.”

When asked by a reporter on Monday if the president had a response to the Vatican’s statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said he had no “personal response” but reaffirmed the president’s long-standing support for same-sex unions.

“I don’t think he has a personal response to the Vatican, no. He continues to believe and support same-sex unions, as you know. He’s long had that position,” Psaki said.

President Biden is the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He has repeatedly cited his Catholic faith in public, and Psaki has referred to him as a “devout Catholic.”

Biden once opposed redefining marriage, having voted for the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. As vice presidential nominee during the 2008 campaign, Biden stated his opposition to “redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage,” according to Reuters.

By May, 2012, Biden stated his support for redefining marriage several days before President Obama supported it.

In 2016, Biden officiated a same-sex wedding ceremony—an act that prompted a rebuke by several leading U.S. bishops.

“When a prominent Catholic politician publicly and voluntarily officiates at a ceremony to solemnize the relationship of two people of the same-sex, confusion arises regarding Catholic teaching on marriage and the corresponding moral obligations of Catholics. What we see is a counter witness, instead of a faithful one founded in the truth,” stated a message on the blog of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), four days after Biden presided over the ceremony.

The statement was signed by then-conference head Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, as well as the then-chairs of the USCCB marriage and domestic justice committees, Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.

The head of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, recently mentioned Biden’s stance on marriage as one that was at odds with Church teaching.

In a Jan. 20 statement for Biden’s inauguration as president, Archbishop Gomez noted that “our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender.”

In the Vatican’s statement on Monday, the CDF said that “when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships,” those relationships must “be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord.”

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“For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex,” the Vatican stated.

The declaration, the Vatican said, is not “a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them.”

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