The trust and conviction behind these pastoral guidelines reflect the belief that the faithful, loving, and lifelong union of two persons of the same sex is capable of signifying the unconditional and never-failing love of God in Christ. I have come to both trust and believe that such unions can be sources and signs of grace and reconciliation not only for the church and the world, but also for a faithful couple seeking a covenanted spiritual life together in Christ. All baptized persons who confess the faith of Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior appropriately need to be surrounded by the prayers, witness, love, and fellowship of the Christian community. The body of Christ is one in witness to the Church’s baptismal promises. Diversity of perspectives and contrary mindedness on any particular contemporary or historic church issue does not divide us, but rather reveals the unique Christian charisma of our oneness in Christ within our diversity. As St. Paul teaches, the body can only function as wholeness within its unique differences.
For more than a century an historic shift and change, not unlike others in Church History in discerning Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, intentionally has been under way. Holy Scripture and human sciences have been in serious dialogue in addressing the mystery of human nature, human relationships, and the moral and ethical dignity of Christian intimate behaviors. The blessing of same-sex unions represents a shift from centuries of what the church and various societies in their cultural contexts have judged to be unacceptable. Yet, as we are all well aware, there have been several other highly historic controversial shifts in our church and world culture. In hindsight, these shifts have come to be seen as faithful responses to a deepening understanding and revelation of what it means to be human. These shifts revealed how God in Christ is reflected in loving human relationships and in community.