Pope Francis Removes Vatican Official Behind Document Barring Blessings for LGBTQ Couples

Pope Francis on Monday demoted Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, the No. 2 official in the doctrine office, due to the belief that he is responsible for the controversial document that bars blessings for same-sex couples.

Morandi is believed to be behind the March 2021 document that declared the Catholic Church would not bless same-sex unions because God "cannot bless sin." The document stated that Francis had been informed and "gave his assent" to its publication.

The document outraged the gay community, to which Francis has since made several gestures of outreach, including to the gay Catholic community and its advocates.

He also wrote a recent letter to an American nun, Sister Jeannine Gramick, on her 50 years of LGBTQ ministry. He wrote a letter to Michael O'Loughlin, an American magazine national correspondent who is a gay Catholic, and commended him for reporting on the Catholic response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Morandi was named bishop of the Italian diocese of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla, which is seen as demotion, since he currently has the title of archbishop and will not be going to an archdiocese, but rather a small diocese. The Vatican said, though, that he would retain the title of archbishop "ad personam," meaning the title was granted to him personally.

Morandi joined the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) as an under-secretary in 2015. He was promoted to secretary, or No. 2, in 2017. The CDF is considered one of the most important Vatican offices, as it interprets doctrine for the universal Catholic Church, sanctions dissenters and handles cases of clergy sexual abuse of minors.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis on Monday demoted Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, the No. 2 official in the doctrine office, due to the belief that he is responsible for the controversial document that bars blessings for same-sex couples. Above, Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square during his Angelus prayer on January 2, 2022, at the Vatican. Alberto Pizzoli/Getty Images

The CDF is currently headed by the Jesuit Cardinal Luis Ladaria, but he is expected to retire relatively soon since he turns 78 in April, three years beyond the normal retirement age for bishops.

Aside from Morandi, there are two "additional secretaries" in the CDF, including the American Archbishop Joseph Di Noia, who also is due to retire soon since he turns 79 in July. The other is Archbishop Charles Scicluna, but he has a full-time job as archbishop of Malta.

The impending retirements and transfer of Morandi suggest some management changes at the office, though they probably won't be announced until Francis releases the blueprint of his reform of the Vatican's overall bureaucracy, expected sometime this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.