German Catholic Bishops affirm S/S Couple Blessings

  1. CathNews NZ Pacific

German bishop asks: Are homosexuals imperfectly created? Did God slip up?

Monday, February 15th, 2021

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Pondering the question: ‘did God slip up in creating homosexuals?’, German Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz found he had to say ‘No’.

Kolgraf says that answer has led him to think the Catholic Church needs a new pastoral approach to homosexual couples. After becoming a bishop in 2017, Kolgraf says he was soon made aware that many different forms of blessings for homosexual couples already existed “and would continue to exist”.

The purpose of these blessings was to “Bless what is good in their lives,” he found.

“They [the blessings] are not modelled on Catholic liturgical wedding ceremonies, nor do they aim to achieve one standardized liturgy. Instead, the priests who accompanied such couples bless what is good in their lives,” Kohlgraf explains. This was why he supported the publication of a collection of blessing ceremonials for gay couples titled “Couples, Rites, Church” published last November.

Although he acknowledges most of the blessing ceremonials are “against Church law”, Kohlgraf says they will continue to be used. The focus on blessings for homosexual couples had increased markedly in the German Church in recent years. In Kohlgraf’s view, it would make little sense if he, as the bishop responsible, were to nullify the blessings.

“Do I really want to break that much china for people who are believers?” he asks.

Kohlgraf’s perspective on homosexuals altered after the German Bishops’ Conference held a series of discussions on homosexuality in 2019. At this, the Conference read a report from medical experts that said:”the percentage of people who feel they are homosexually oriented in society is by no means small and homosexuality is a relevant phenomenon in the animal world.”

The report led Kohlgraf to ask himself: “Are people who feel homosexually oriented imperfectly created? Did God slip up?” He says he finds it difficult to imagine that something had gone wrong in the order of creation.

However, the Church’s stance is hard on homosexuals, he points out. Few homosexuals find the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s stipulation that they practice chastity as “tactful and respectful,” he says. It also states homosexuals’ inclination is not of their own choosing and asks for compassion for them – a stance Kohlgraf thinks could sound condescending. “… I am amazed by how greatly the issue of homosexuality has gained ferocity in Church debates,” he says.

Other German bishops’ in favor of blessing homosexual couples include Franz-Josef Bode, who was the first German bishop to speak out openly in favor of the practice. That was in 2018. “Remaining silent or tabooing the subject gets us nowhere,” he said at the time, while demanding more discussion on the issue.

That same year, Cardinal Reinhard Marx came out in favor of blessing homosexual couples in individual cases after they had been accompanied by a priest. In 2020, Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers said he would welcome blessings for homosexual couples. He said he was against excluding people and could understand why gay couples would want a blessin

Image: National Catholic Reporter

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This report from the New Zealand Roman Catholic ‘CathNews’ bears witness to the fact that there are Catholic bishops in Germany and elsewhere in Europe whose views on the offering of Same-Sex Blessings differ from those of the more conservative clerics who – at least officially – prefer to maintain the official dogmatic stance against homosexuality believing it to be an aberration – involving a wilful departure from the doctrinal position of the Catholic Church.

The fact that Pope Francis has already affirmed his belief that the Church should not ‘judge’ the situation of gay people, and that they ought to be welcomed rather than stigmatised; ought to encourage more of the Church’s hierarchy to consider the pastoral situation of those gay church members who have been able to avail themselves of legal partnership benefits offered by the state, and yet still face opposition in the Church to their new status in community.

The new U.S. President, Joe Biden, has been subjected to criticism by certain U.S. Bishops for his open acceptance of the U.S.States’ provisions for Same-Sex Marriage. However, his status as a loyal Mass-attending Catholic has been recognised by none other than Pope Francis, who rang to congratulate him on his Election as POTUS, thereby bestowing a virtual Blessing upon his Presidency.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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