The Catholic Church has become further embroiled in the continuing controversy surrounding same-sex marriage after the Vatican said this week that the church would not bless such unions.
It came in response to a question asking: "Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?"
The unequivocal response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in The Vatican was “negative”.
“God does not bless sin,” it said.
In expounding on the issue, the CDF said blessing same-sex unions would suggest that the Catholic Church approves and encourages "a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God."
The decree was seen as a departure from remarks last October attributed to Pope Francis considered then as suggesting more tolerance of same-sex unions and way of life.
Speaking in a biographical film based on his life and teachings, the Pontiff had said “homosexual people have a right to be in a family.”
“They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
The Vatican now claims his remarks were taken out of context.
"It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage - outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life - as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex," the CDF said.
Pope Francis is also reported to have endorsed the CDF decree saying it was "not intended to be a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite".