An Irish priest has hit out at the Vatican's stance on same-sex couples, after it said priests could not bless such unions.
Earlier this month, its doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), found that moves to bless homosexual couples, who ask for some type of religious recognition of their union, cannot "be considered licit" - or lawful.
The CDF said Pope Francis was informed and "gave his assent" to the publication.
Fr Paddy Byrne tweeted his disapproval on Monday, saying: "This is not Christianity".
He wrote: "20 years in my priestly ministry I have been involved in blessing ceremonies of every description. Including blessings of pets, cows, crops, rings, cars, tractors…… Yet a same sex couple who request a simple blessing on their union must be turned away. This is not Christianity."
20 years in my priestly ministry I have been involved in blessing ceremonies of every description. Including blessings of pets, cows, crops, rings, cars, tractors……Yet a same sex couple who request a simple blessing on their union must be turned away. This is not Christianity.
— fr Paddy (@frpaddybyrne) March 29, 2021
Speaking on Pat Kenny, Fr Byrne said he has been doing a lot of reflecting in lockdown.
"I suppose I welcomed the conversation from the Irish bishops - the initiative of a national synod - where real issues are going to be discussed.
"And then out of nowhere, a statement from the Congregation of Doctrine of Faith was issued in a response to questions asked by German bishops and people around how we best minister to brothers and sisters, family members who happen to be gay.
"I just found that the report that they gave back, the language was dreadful, the commentary was nowhere in terms of what my image - and I think the vast majority of people, looking at the response to the tweet - pride themselves with the gifts of kindness and compassion.
"I like the phrase, I think it's actually a Christian slogan, 'Love is love'.
"If I can go out... to bless a calf that's not well, to bless a person's leg that might be a bit sore, surely to God - and this is a theological thing - but a blessing is a blessing which anybody can do.
"Where there's love, there's grace and surely gay couples at the very best deserve that sort of dignified human response".
'There's two churches out there'
Fr Byrne said he hopes more priests will speak out.
"There's far too many of us priests who remain silent, who get on with our business on the ground...it's almost like there's two churches out there.
"There's the local one that tries to just be part and present in the life of everybody, and then there's this official one that's far away, and that often enforces its teachings from on high and it doesn't wash with people".
LGBT people 'almost demonised by the church'
He added that the church needs to look at itself carefully.
"The essence of Jesus Christ as a Christian in the scripture is he was one who included, who loved, who hung out with those who were on the periphery - often marginalised and indeed demonised.
"He was an attractive figure that built those important connections, and because of that he ended up on a cross.
"I think as [a] church - and particularly now after going through a pandemic - I really sense this must be a cathartic moment.
"And if we're honest, the institutional Catholic church in Ireland is on its knees in terms of - not just the recent histories of scandal, etc - but in terms of those who are participating, in terms of our vocation crisis.
"It's not the end of our story, but that if we want to really renew I think we have to be honest, I think we have to have courage - but more importantly let kindness, compassion and inclusivity be not just our language but also ritualise it.
"And not be afraid to be inclusive in a way that, I have no doubt, will bring healing to those people - particularly members of the LGBT community who have been so alienated, marginalized and almost demonised by the church".