On August 23, the Bishopric of Segorbe-Castellon issued a press release regarding the activity of the parish priest in Onda, Father José García who performed a blessing in the church of San Bartolomé of a couple referred to as Carmen and Lucia on July 30, just one day after they had entered into a civil marriage.
It is reported that the couple invited friends and relatives to the church to witness their ‘casament’ (a Valencian term for wedding) and that they were dressed in white gowns reminiscent of wedding dresses.
According to Father García this was a simple blessing for two people whom he had known for some considerable time but for others this was seen as a massive error of judgement which suggested that the Catholic Church was undertaking or at least approving same sex marriages.
His Bishop however, whilst acknowledging that people should be treated with dignity regardless of their sexual orientation went on to say that the action by the priest seriously contradicts the doctrine of the Catholic Church not only giving the impression that the Church celebrated a same-sex marriage, but also presided over the celebration of the blessing of a previous civil union between the two.
Following an investigation undertaken by the Bishop, the priest has agreed that he made a serious error of judgement in allowing the ceremony to proceed, although at the time, he believed that he was acting in the best way to offer pastoral care to his congregation but he has undertaken not to offer a similar service to any same-sex couple in the future.
It waits to be seen whether Father García will be disciplined for his action, although the Catholic Church may decide that having made its point, nothing will be achieved other than to upset members of the LGBT community by pursuing the matter further.