All love enriches our church

God is love, and love is holy—even in relationships the church sometimes calls “irregular.”
Catholic Voices

I recently rewatched one of my favorite movies, A Walk to Remember, which came out in 2003 and is based on the book of the same name. Landon, a rebellious-yet-good-hearted young man, falls in love with Jamie, a sweet, mature, and devoted girl. He becomes better because of her; she continues growing and fulfilling her goals with him.

Jamie’s faith is not a dead religiosity; it is a faith that is quite alive, perhaps because she has leukemia and only a few months to live. Spoiler alert: They marry and live a few beautiful months together before she passes away.

I have recently been reflecting on love—specifically on romantic love, on my own marriage, and on the concept of openness to life. In certain circles within the Catholic Church, marriage and procreation are often tokenized—used as a symbol of compliance with rules, a way to determine who is in and who is out.

This often leaves many loving Catholics seemingly outside of the community that is their church: couples who are sacramentally married but choose not to have children, couples who have children but choose not to get sacramentally married, single mothers, and both heterosexual and same-sex couples who cannot physically have children, to mention just a few.


Despite the deep love between the couple, as expressed in the film’s memorable line: “Jamie and I had a perfect summer together with more love than most people know in a lifetime,” their love, though lifegiving, didn’t result in children. Some people could say their relationship was “irregular.” Nevertheless, their love was a source of God’s grace.

While this is just a movie, it illustrates a core element of love. Love in itself is holy; it’s sacred. It is that of which God is made. Love is life-giving in more than one way.

We often practice imperfect forms of love, but at its most perfect stage, love leads to wholesomeness and wholeness. A union fueled by love is a union that adds; it does not subtract. At its best, love says: “I am more me because you’re here”; “I continue growing because you support my growth”; “I am freer because I love you”; “I am closer to God because I see the Divine in you”; “You are my safe space.” At its most perfect expression, both people in a union continue their growth together and support each other’s growth instead of limiting it.

In its recent declaration Fiducia Supplicans, the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith officially authorized blessings of couples in “irregular situations” and same-sex couples. While making it clear that the doctrine on sacramental marriage is not changing and that no new liturgical rites are being created, it recognizes the desire of some of these couples to obtain a blessing so that “all that is true, good, and humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit.”


What might that blessing look like? “In a brief prayer preceding this spontaneous blessing, the ordained minister could ask that the individuals have peace, health, a spirit of patience, dialogue, and mutual assistance—but also God’s light and strength,” the document reads.

Some Catholics seem baffled by this possibility. This openness to bless is a recognition of the existence of grace-giving love in so-called “irregular relationships” and an invitation for all of us to reflect on how these unions already enrich our church.

I have no doubt that a relationship like the one portrayed in A Walk to Remember is holy. Similarly, I have no doubt that the committed and loving unions of LGBTQ Catholics, as well as other heterosexual Catholics in civil marriages or childless marriages, are life-giving and blessings in and of themselves. The Holy Spirit is calling us to discern how they are a blessing to the church and, consequently, to bless them in return. 

This article also appears in the March 2024 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 89, No. 3, page 9). Click here to subscribe to the magazine.


Image: Unsplash/Anna Selle

About the author

Yunuen Trujillo

Yunuen Trujillo is an immigration attorney, faith-based community organizer, and lay minister. She is the author of LGBTQ Catholics: A Guide for Inclusive Ministry (Paulist Press).

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