Sat | Jun 19, 2021

Catholics to bless gay unions despite Vatican ban

Published:Tuesday | May 11, 2021 | 12:11 AM
Vicar Wolfgang Rothe (left) blesses the couple Christine Walter (centre) and Almut Muenster during a Catholic service with the blessing of same-sex couples in St Benedict’s Church in Munich on Sunday.
Vicar Wolfgang Rothe (left) blesses the couple Christine Walter (centre) and Almut Muenster during a Catholic service with the blessing of same-sex couples in St Benedict’s Church in Munich on Sunday.

BERLIN (AP):

Germany’s powerful Catholic progressives are openly defying a recent Holy See pronouncement that priests cannot bless same-sex unions by offering such blessings at services in about 100 different churches all over the country this week.

The blessings at open worship services are the latest pushback from German Catholics against a document released in March by the Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which said Catholic clergy cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin”.

The document pleased conservatives and disheartened advocates for LGBTQ Catholics around the globe. But the response has been particularly acute in Germany, where the German church has been at the forefront of opening discussion on hot-button issues, such as the church’s teaching on homosexuality, as part of a formal process of debate and reform.

The dozens of church services celebrating blessings of gay unions are the latest escalation in tensions between conservatives and progressives that have already sparked alarm, primarily from the right, that part of the German church might be heading into schism.

Germany is no stranger to schism: 500 years ago, Martin Luther launched the Reformation here.

Pope Francis, who has championed a more decentralised church structure, has already reminded the German hierarchy that it must remain in communion with Rome during its reform process, known as a ‘synodal path’.

In Berlin, the Rev Jan Korditschke, a Jesuit who works for the diocese preparing adults for baptism and helps out at the St Canisius congregation, will lead blessings for queer couples at a worship service on May 16.

“I am convinced that homosexual orientation is not bad, nor is homosexual love a sin,” Korditschke told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday. “I want to celebrate the love of homosexuals with these blessings because the love of homosexuals is something good.”

The 44-year-old said it is important that homosexuals can show themselves within the Catholic Church and gain more visibility long term. He said he was not afraid of possible repercussions by high-ranking church officials or the Vatican.

“I stand behind what I am doing, though it is painful for me that I cannot do it in tune with the church leadership,” Korditschke said, adding that “the homophobia of my church makes me angry and I am ashamed of it”.

The head of the German Bishops Conference last month criticised the grassroots initiative for gay blessings.

Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing said the blessings “are not suitable as an instrument of church political manifestations or political actions”.