LGBTQ Catholics in a state of ‘conditional belonging’

On Monday, Pope Francis announced that priests were permitted to bless same-sex couples.

Landon Schnabel is an assistant professor of sociology who studies social inequality with a focus on factors like religion that compensate for inequality – by providing social, psychological and material benefits to a subordinated group – but can paradoxically end up legitimating and reinforcing it. He says the blessing of same-sex couples is an important and complex step for the Catholic Church.

Schnabel says: “The Vatican’s decision to allow priests to bless same-sex couples marks a significant, yet complex, step for the Catholic Church. It reflects the shifts observed on many pivotal issues from civil rights and women’s workforce participation to LGBTQ rights, starting with a few progressive voices and eventually expanding to broad consensus, prompting even traditional institutions to adapt.

“This move presents a paradox for the LGBTQ faithful. It symbolizes inclusion but stops short of full acceptance. The Church’s stance may seem welcoming, yet it hesitates to fully embrace LGBTQ rights, leaving these members in a state of ‘conditional’ belonging.

“Unlike Protestant denominations, which often split over such issues, the Catholic Church’s foundational unity makes rapid transformations difficult. The Pope’s authority allows for change, albeit cautiously, to avoid schism. This step underscores the Church's challenge in aligning its traditions with evolving societal perspectives and values, especially on issues like LGBTQ rights.”

Media Contact: Abby Kozlowski,

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