Responding to five conservative cardinals who challenged him to affirm church teaching on homosexuality, Pope Francis has suggested there could be ways to bless same-sex unions. This happened ahead of a big meeting where LGBTQ+ Catholics are on the agenda. The Vatican published a letter Francis wrote to the cardinals on July 11 after receiving a list of five questions, or “dubia,” from them. In it, Francis suggests that such blessings could be studied if they didn’t confuse the blessing with sacramental marriage. New Ways Ministry, which advocates for LGBTQ+ Catholics, said the letter significantly advances efforts to make LGBTQ+ Catholics welcomed in the church. The Vatican holds that marriage is an indissoluble union between man and woman. As a result, it has long opposed gay marriage. But even Francis has voiced support for civil laws extending legal benefits to same-sex spouses, and Catholic priests in parts of Europe have been blessing same-sex unions without Vatican censure. The five cardinals, who have challenged Francis’s inclusive approach, belong to conservative prelates from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. They have asked Francis to simply respond to these five questions with a yes or no.