Reporter’s Note: In an email to CatholicVote, Bishop François Beyrouti asked that readers consult his letter to fully understand the nature of his pastoral guidance.
CV News Feed // The Melkite Catholic Church in the United States released guidelines in response to the Vatican’s recent declaration on blessings, stating that priests must receive a bishop’s permission to perform blessings for couples in irregular situations.
Bishop François Beyrouti, head of the Melkite Catholic Diocese of Newton, which encompasses all of the United States, released guidelines to Melkite clergymen on December 20 in response to Fiducia Supplicans.
The document said that priests could bless “couples in irregular situations,” including “same-sex couples,” leading to confusion and controversy over the nature of these blessings.
Beyrouti’s statement informs Melkite priests that they cannot bless same-sex couples or couples in irregular situations without his written permission. Beyrouti warned that “disregard for this prescription will result in canonical penalties.”
The Melkite Church is in full communion with Rome and must observe guidelines as prescribed by the Vatican. However, they have a separate liturgical rite and diocesan structure. The Diocese of Newton covers the entire United States and includes roughly 50 parishes serving 20,000 Melkite Catholics.
In his statement, Beyrouti affirms the Church’s teaching on marriage as being between man and woman, sharing with the priests a passage from Genesis 1:27–28.
He also reminded priests that they are to only celebrate weddings according to the Melkite rite unless they have been granted approval to celebrate the Latin rite.
“Melkite Catholic priests are only permitted to perform weddings in accordance with the approved liturgical texts of the Diocese of Newton,” wrote Beyrouti. “For those clerics who have been granted bi-ritual faculties in the Roman Rite to use the liturgically approved books for use within that rite.”
Beyrouti also reminded priests that weddings should only take place after the couple has undergone thorough preparation with a priest.
“Marriages are only to be celebrated by a priest after the due preparation of one male and one female who have completed all the documentation required by diocesan guidelines,” said Beyrouti.