Church cannot refuse blessing for gay couples

Austrian cardinal criticised Vatican

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has criticised the Vatican for trying to stop priests from blessing same-sex unions.

The Archbishop of Vienna has joined more than a dozen German-speaking bishops who have voiced displeasure with the Vatican’s recent effort to reinforce a ban on blessing gay couples.

He said the responsum and explanation produced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has deeply wounded many people.

“If the request for a blessing is not a show. If the request is honest and is really a plea for God’s blessing of a way of life that two people want to embark on together, then such a blessing will not be refused,” the 76-year-old cardinal said in the latest issue of his archdiocesan weekly paper, Der Sonntag.

Schönborn said many homosexuals wanted to see “the Church as their mother”.

He added, “That is why the Vatican declaration was especially painful for so many, as they felt that they had been rejected by the Church.”

The criticism by Schönborn is seen as extremely significant. Not only is he a member of the CDF, but also the Church’s second most senior cardinal in active ministry.

He received his red hat in 1998, and is outranked only by 75-year-old Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, who became a cardinal four years earlier.

“A blessing is not a reward for good behavior, but a plea for help from above,” said the Austrian Church leader.

Seven out of the ten bishops who lead dioceses in Austria have publicly criticized the CDF text.

In addition, some 200 German-speaking theologians and more than 2000 priests in Germany and Austria have issued a statement protesting the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation.

They publicly stated that they will continue to bless homosexual couples.

The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) pointed out that the issue of blessing gay couples was not only being discussed in Germany, but also “in many countries in the world Church”.

The ZdK has called for  “further development of Church teaching” on homosexuality that could therefore not just simply be rejected.

Catholic bishops and leading laity have already begun discussing this and other issues pertaining to sexual morality. They have done so as part of Germany’s ongoing “binding synodal procedure” for ecclesial renewal.

The series of synodal gatherings was triggered by the Church’s shattered credibility as a consequence of the abuse crisis.



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