Pope Francis Clarifies Blessing Same-Sex Unions — 'That Cannot Be Done' — But Says 'Everyone' Can Be Blessed (Exclusive)

In PEOPLE's exclusive look at his historic '60 Minutes' interview, Pope Francis clarifies his stance on blessing same-sex couples and unions

  • Pope Francis has clarified his position on allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples in a historic 60 Minutes interview airing Sunday

  • "What I allowed was not to bless the union. That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament," he told Norah O'Donnell in PEOPLE's exclusive look at the sit-down

  • "But to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for EVERYONE. For everyone," he added

Pope Francis is clarifying his position on allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples — and PEOPLE has an exclusive look at his historic television interview set to air on 60 Minutes this weekend.

In December, the 87-year-old pontiff said that allowing same-sex couples to be blessed is “as an expression of the Church’s maternal heart," comments that were made two months after he made waves for seemingly suggesting he would be open to some Catholic priests blessing same-sex unions.

In PEOPLE's exclusive look at the pope's conversation with Norah O'Donnell, he went into further detail about his stance on the matter.

"What I allowed was not to bless the union. That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament. I cannot. The Lord made it that way," he said during the interview. "But to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for everyone. For everyone."

Related: Pope Francis Condemns Anti-Gay Laws Around the World: 'Being Homosexual Is Not a Crime'

"To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, the law of the Church. But to bless each person, why not?" he added. "The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why? Everyone! Everyone!"

When O'Donnell noted that Pope Francis once said that “Homosexuality is not a crime," the pontiff responded in agreement, saying, "It is a human fact."

“In our rare and wide-ranging conversation, we speak to Pope Francis about his efforts to open up the Catholic Church to everyone - including to those who have long been shunned by the institution," O'Donnell tells PEOPLE in a statement. "It’s one of the reasons many call him the ‘People’s Pope.’ ”

Franco Origlia/Getty Pope Francis
Franco Origlia/Getty Pope Francis

The clarification comes months after the Vatican’s doctrine office released a document in December 2023 that gave Catholic priests permission to bless same-sex couples, which was praised as a "major step forward."

Two months earlier, the pope had given an initial response to questions formally submitted by five cardinals about the matter, in which he first suggested openness to blessing gay couples.

“God never turns away anyone who approaches him!” the document stated. “Ultimately, a blessing offers people a means to increase their trust in God. … It is a seed of the Holy Spirit that must be nurtured, not hindered.”

However, the document stressed that any "rites and prayers that could create confusion between what constitutes marriage...and what contradicts it are inadmissible."

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In the December declaration, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández stated that the new rule didn’t amend “the traditional doctrine of the church about marriage," and that it didn’t allow for liturgical rites that resemble the sacrament of marriage.

According to the document, the declaration is intended to allow those seeking the blessing “to open one’s life to God, to ask for his help to live better” and live with greater faithfulness.

The 60 Minutes interview airs on Sunday, May 19, at 7:00 p.m. EST/PST on the CBS Television Network and streaming on Paramount+. CBS News will also air an hourlong special with Pope Francis on Monday, May 20, at 10 p.m. EST on the CBS Television Network and streaming on Paramount+.

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