By Joleen Murphy
The Vatican says the Catholic church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions.
Its doctrinal office issued the ruling today in response to moves in some parishes to offer to bless such unions.
It found that moves to bless homosexual couples, who ask for some type of religious recognition of their union, cannot be considered lawful.
The Vatican says priests cannot bless same-sex unions, since God "cannot bless sin".
Its orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has issued a formal response to a question about whether Catholic clergy can bless gay unions.
Pope Francis has endorsed providing gay couples with legal protections in same-sex unions, but that's in reference to the civil sphere, not within the church.
The Vatican's announcement that same-sex unions cannot receive blessings is "very disappointing and rather harsh", according to a well-known priest.
Fr Brian D'Arcy says it's also "out of kilter" with the direction the church was heading.
The ruling was issued yesterday that such blessings aren't valid, since God "cannot bless sin".
Fr D'Arcy says some parishes had been looking for the church to allow blessings of same-sex unions instead of marriage.
"Hearing the news as it came out, was very disappointing and I thought rather harsh and out of kilter with the way the church is going at the moment, there is really a jump back into former times.
"However, the CDF see it as their role to defend doctrine and dogma.
"And while that is understandable, there is a greater awareness within the church that that is not the churches only mission."
Menawhile, Elton John is the latest to react to the news.
He has accused the Vatican of hypocrisy after it said the Catholic Church can't bless same-sex unions.
The singer's queried how the Vatican can justify that when it was happy to make profits investing in Rocketman - the 2019 biopic about the gay star's life.
Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes/flickr