Monday, April 19th, 2021
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- CathNews NZ Pacific
Several German Catholic leaders are openly supporting the blessing of same-sex couples and overtly challenging the Vatican.
A massive blessing service event called “Love wins, blessing service for lovers” has been scheduled for May 10, in direct opposition to Rome’s chief doctrinal office.
Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen said priests in his diocese will face no canonical consequence if they decide to bless gay and lesbian couples in the event.
“Love wins. Love is a blessing,” says the website for the event. “People who love each other are blessed. On May 10th, 2021, we invite you to various places in Germany for blessing services.
“We don’t want to exclude anyone. We celebrate the diversity of people’s different life plans and love stories, and ask for God’s blessings. Without any secrecy.
“On this page, you will find the services that take place. You can register for a service and send us a blessing.”
Organizers also ask that on that day, Catholics in Germany use “creative symbols to make visible how many people in the Church perceive the colorful diversity of different life plans and love stories of people as an enrichment and a blessing.”
Bishop Overbeck argued on Easter that there are “many blessings for gay couples” in Germany. He also said that the Catholic Church is not supposed to reject gay people. But it should “find ways for homosexuals to be able to live together.”
Overbeck’s stance is in direct opposition to a statement released by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on March 15 with papal approval.
The document, technically an answer to a question posed to the CDF, argues that the Church cannot bless same-sex unions because “God does not bless sin.”
The response caused division both among the faithful and the hierarchy. This was highlighted in Germany, which is currently undergoing a synodal path to address the Church’s response to clerical sexual abuse. At the same time, it is reviewing Church teaching on human sexuality, priestly celibacy and the ban on ordaining women into the priesthood.
While many bishops oppose the CDF’s response, several high-ranking German prelates support the response. The group includes Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne; Bishop Stephan Burger of Freiburg; and Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg.
Despite the fact that the Vatican has issued a Statement which denies the right of Same-Sex Couples to receive the official Blessing of the Church – offering the explanation suggesting that all sexual relationships outside of heterosexual marriage are intrinsically ‘disordered’ – certain Bishops of the German Roman Catholic Church are planning to offer a massed ‘Blessing for Same-Lovers’ (including non-binary partnerships) on May 12th in Germany.
It will be interesting to see how this determination will be received by the Vatican’s Doctrinal Commission – especially as the anti-Blessing statement was actually counter-signed by the Pope! However, Pope Francis is well-known for his acceptance of his country’s Civil Unions legislation which allows Same-Sex Couples to undertake the responsibility of a marriage-like legal partnership. The question still remains, though: Are there two different official attitudes towards the union of two people in the Roman Catholic Church? And will the Pope choose to resolve the matter by his own authority as Supreme Pontiff?
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand