The largest Protestant Christian denomination in France has approved church blessings for same-sex couples when they marry just two years to the month after France legalized same-sex marriage.
The United Protestant Church of France is the fourth largest religious denomination in France after Catholicism, Islam and Judaism and the largest group representing Protestants and has around 400,000 members.
Delegates to the church’s Synod voted 94 to 3 in favor of the change, adopting the following wording: ‘The Synod will allow same-sex couples to feel welcome as they are while respecting the diverse views that cross the United Protestant Church.’
‘It opens the possibility for those who see it as a fair way to witness to the Gospel, to practice a liturgical blessing of married same-sex couples who want to place their covenant with God.’
However the new policy will only provide the option for the church’s around 500 pastors to provide blessings for same-sex couples so those who are opposed will still be able to turn away same-sex couples who seek their blessing.
According to a statement by the church, ‘such a blessing is an open possibility.’
‘It is neither a right nor an obligation.’
Until now only the much smaller Evangelical Mission church provided a ‘liturgical gesture of welcome and prayer’ for same-sex couples in France.
In France only marriages performed by the state have any legal weight so a church wedding is merely a religious endorsement of a marriage.