Reports that the Pope has formally approved allowing priests to bless same-sex couples, are being dismissed by conservative Catholics.
The Associated Press said on Monday that a new document, from the Catholic committee on Doctrine, revealed what it called a "radical change" in Vatican policy.
But orthodox Catholic writer and commentator, Peter Williams, tells Premier that's not true.
“What it's doing is saying there are certain kinds of people who are in irregular situations...what we want to do is help them pastorally but we will absolutely not want to give them any kind of liturgical blessing that will affirm them in a relationship that is contrary to the teachings of Christ.”
He says the situation was sparked by bishops on Germany, who are pushing for change, stating: “They've been wanting to give a certain form of same sex marriage blessing of some description, and this document says you may not do that.”
Despite Pope Francis hinting that a change could be in the pipeline in October, Williams believes it’s unlikely he’s changed his position overnight, even if some of his advisors might wish otherwise.
“I'm going to give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt and say that nobody's just as Orthodox as he claims to be…it certainly does appear to be the case that there are people surrounding the Pope, who do have that kind of agenda with whom he is friendly.
“Does that mean that he's in favour of same sex marriage? I find that doubtful, in and of itself...it doesn't fit a lot about we know about him a lot of what we know about him biographically, to say that he's a formal liberal.”
The release of the document coincides with a historic moment in the Church of England on Sunday, when clergy were permitted to include the first prayers of blessing for same-sex couples within services. There’s been widespread division in the denomination throughout the process leading to the move being approved in the House of Bishops.