German cardinal says blessing gay couples ok
Marx is the president of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Marx says church leaders in the field of pastoral care work and pastoral care should consider the situation of the individual.
This means they must “try harder to accompany them in their circumstances of life”.
Gay people are included in this, so priests and pastoral workers must be encouraged to accompany people according to their individual situations.
There are no general solutions, he says.
Instead, priests should be allowed to bless gay couples on a case-by-case basis.
Marx says the decision should be made by “the pastor on the ground, and the individual under pastoral care”.
“It’s about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies in other areas as well, which we cannot regulate, where we have no sets of rules.”
While he stopped short of fully endorsing blessings for same-sex couples, his positive comments made it clear he was open to approving such benedictions in private ceremonies.
“The issue is how the church can do justice to the challenges that new living conditions and new insights bring,” Marx says.
Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, who is the vice-president of the German Catholic bishops’ conference, also asked for deeper discussion on church blessings for homosexual partnerships.
He says it is unhelpful to remain silent about such taboo subjects concerning the “political reality” of same-sex marriage.
“We must, therefore, ask ourselves how we should encounter and respond to those who enter into such partnerships and remain committed to the Church,” Bode says.
“We must ask ourselves how we should accompany them pastorally and liturgically and how we can meet their needs.”
Cardinal Marx, the president of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference., here suggests (with the tacit agreement of the vice-president) that the pastoral duty of the Church is to minister to the needs of a small minority in the Church who wish to be recognised as faithful, same-gendered couples whose lives are bound up with the local Catholic congregations.
At a time when we Anglicans in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Pacific are about to contemplate this very exercise – of the pastoral accommodation of a perceived need by faithfully related same-sex couples to be accepted and blessed by the local parish priest – this good news from the German Catholic hierarchy is to be heartily welcomed.
The final 3 paragraphs of this communique – conveyed to us in this news release from our own local Roman Catholic source at CATHNEWSNZ – give the most pressing arguments for dealing pastorally with the situation of same-sex couples in the Church.
Catholic Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, who is the vice-president of the German Catholic bishops’ conference, also asked for deeper discussion on church blessings for homosexual partnerships. This suggestion from the German bishops will no doubt exercise the hearts and minds of the Pope and the Curia at the Vatican. Obviously, Cardinal Marx does not see the proposed move as any departure from the doctrine of the Church, but rather, an overdue pastoral accommodation towards a significant minority in the Church.
Let’s hope that the General Synod of our own Anglican Church (ACANZP) in New Zealand will make a decision that will deal sensitively and positively towards those same-gendered couples whose lives have been enhanced by a faithful contractual relationship approved by the State and regarded as a necessary gesture towards the social stability that will result from such a measure by our Church. What needs to be remembered in this matter is that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice but of intrinsic gifting from the Creator, God. Anything the Church can do to properly order such relationships – which are akin to a binary marriage – is an important contributory factor towards the maintenance of faithful human partnerships, which formerly were not possible because of misinformed societal recrimination.
(n.b. Cardinal Marx is also a prime mover of the need for the pastoral accommodation of non-Catholic partners of Catholics to be able to receive the consecrated Elements of the Eucharist when attending Mass with their spouse. )
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand