German Catholic bishops defy Vatican and back blessing of same-sex relationships
Catholic bishops in Germany have voted to bless same-sex couples in a move directly defying the Vatican and Pope Francis.
On Friday (10 March), a majority of bishop delegates at the Synodal Path in Frankfurt voted in favour of same-sex couples being able to have their relationships blessed by the German Catholic Church from 2026.
The Syndoal Path, overseen by the Syndoal Assemble, is a 230-member high-level conference organised by Germany’s Catholic Church to address potential reforms in the church’s teachings and practices.
The five page document, entitled “Blessing ceremonies for couples who love each other”, was passed at its second reading by 176 votes to 14 against, with 12 abstentions.
In forum, the document was supported by 38 votes to nine, with 11 abstentions.
The document’s motion called on the Syndoal Assemble to officially allow blessing ceremonies in their dioceses for couples who love each other but for whom “sacramental marriage is not accessible”, including those who do not see themselves getting married or have been divorced.
The motion explicitly states it includes same-sex couples “on the basis of a re-evaluation of homosexuality as a norm variant of human sexuality”.
It goes on to state that refusal to bless couples who live their lives “in love, commitment and responsibility to each other and to God” would be “merciless” and “discriminatory”.
An opportunity for the church to ‘ask for forgiveness’
“Often same-sex couples and remarried divorcees have experienced exclusion and depreciation in our Church,” the Synodal motion concludes. “The possibility of publicly placing their partnership under God’s blessing does not make up for these experiences.
“However, it offers the Church the opportunity to show appreciation for the love and values that exist in these relationships and thus ask for forgiveness and make reconciliation possible.”
This move by Germany’s bishop comes as a direct defiance to the Vatican’s view that the church “cannot bless sin“.
In 2021, an explanatory note published by the Vatican’s orthodoxy office told church members that same-sex couples could not be blessed, as doing so would be an affront to God.
During his papacy, Pope Francis has offered a pacifying approach towards attitudes to homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the church.
The pontiff has said on a numerous occasions that being gay is not a crime, nor should people be punished for it, and parents should accept their gay children. However, the Argentine pope has also doubled down on homosexuality being a sin in the eyes of God, something the Catholic Church cannot support or bless.
The decision by Germany’s bishops to bless same-sex couples comes just months after the Church of England announced it would not allow gay couples to marry in churches, but would offer blessing ceremonies instead.
Former LGBTQ+ advisor to the government and gay Christian activist Jayne Ozanne said CoE bishops had thrown LGBTQ+ lives “under the bus” following their decision.
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