Rebel priests vow to bless same-sex couples

In defiance of church orders, a dissident band of Roman Catholic priests on Tuesday said they would continue blessing same-sex couples… a day after the Vatican said such relationships cannot be blessed.

In some countries, parishes and ministers had begun blessing same-sex unions in lieu of marriage… setting off alarm bells among Church conservatives.

That led to Monday’s ruling, backed by Pope Francis, which greatly disappointed gay Catholics.

Now - an Austrian-based group known as the Parish Priests Initiative is fighting back.

In a Tuesday statement, the group said they were deeply appalled by the new decree and that (quote): “This is a relapse into times that we had hoped to have overcome with Pope Francis.”

"We will - in solidarity with so many - not reject any loving couple in the future who ask to celebrate God's blessing, which they experience every day, also in a worship service.”

The rebel group led by Father Helmut Schueller has long been a thorn in the side of the Vatican.

The group - now with 350 members from the ranks of the official Church - also wants rules changed so that priests can marry and women can become priests.