The first church blessing of same-sex couples in Poland has taken place, involving both Catholic and Protestant clergy. Among the couples blessed were practising Catholics Artur and Jan.

“This blessing is very important to us; it is an extra injection of strength for our further life together,” Artur told Wprost. “We are both believers. Faith allowed us to survive the numerous crises that appeared in our lives. Sometimes it was the strongest anchor that kept us alive.”

Jan added, “We are ordinary people; we love and suffer just like everyone else. Hate is the most destructive feeling. And love of God and neighbour is the most important commandment resulting from the teachings of Jesus.”

The ceremony in Warsaw was led by Michał Jabłoński, pastor of the Evangelical Reformed Parish Church, along with a pastor from the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, Poland’s largest Protestant denomination, and a Roman Catholic priest.

The Catholic Church in Poland holds a strongly conservative stance on LGBT+ issues. However, last year the Vatican issued a declaration allowing priests to bless members of unmarried couples, including same-sex partners.

Uschi Pawlik of the Faith and Rainbow Foundation, who helped organise the service, told Wprost that as a Catholic, she understands the controversy among believers. “But Pope Francis clearly shows a change in thinking about relationships in the Church and a transition from rigid rules and principles to pastoral flexibility,” she said. “There are more and more Polish Roman Catholic priests who support LGBT+ people.”