Same-sex mass blessing “not helpful”

A mass same-sex blessing across 56 cities in Germany has been labelled “not helpful”.

The president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, has criticized the upcoming Catholic-backed initiative saying blessings should not be used as a political statement.

The blessing service initiative was organised immediately after the Vatican formally said no to same-sex blessings.

Several lay and ordained Catholic leaders in Germany organised the initiative, calling it: “Love wins, blessing service for lovers.”

The national day set for May 10 will consist of blessing services for same-sex couples being held throughout the country.

A statement on the event’s website says that in response to the Vatican’s ‘no’ to same-sex blessings:

“We will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership in the future and bless their relationship.

“We do not refuse a blessing ceremony. We do this in our responsibility as pastors, who promise people at important moments in their lives the blessings that God alone gives. We respect and value their love, and we also believe that God’s blessings are on them.”

The initiative’s organizers have condemned what they said is “an exclusive and outdated sexual morality” which is being “carried out on the backs of people” and which “undermines our work in pastoral care.”

Bätzing, however, says the blessing ceremonies are not “a helpful sign and a further path,” for same-sex couples.

In a statement on 28 April, he explained, for the Church blessings hold spiritual significance and therefore should never be used for political ends or as a means of protest.

Blessing ceremonies “have their own theological dignity and pastoral significance” and are therefore “not suitable as an instrument for church political manifestations or protest actions,” he said.

At the same time, he stressed that homosexuals – whether individuals or partners – have a place in the Church. “You are welcome to us,” he said.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which issued the decree banning same-sex blessings justified its position, saying:

God does not bless sin.”

This thumbs down from the Vatican immediately had Catholic faithful and hierarchy divided about whether the response was fair.

Much of that backlash was felt in Germany.

Outside Germany, however, as a direct result of the Vatican decree, 700 – mainly young people – formally left the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Antwerp.

Bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny, says the “dramatic” backlash has come from “mainly straight people” who saw the Vatican ruling Responsum as “a step too far”.

Furthermore, as many as 2,000 people cancelled their baptismal registrations in the Flemish dioceses in Belgium.

Bonny also hit out at Vatican document’s “theological weakness” and failure to reflect the developments in biblical theology, sacramental theology and moral theology.

“It’s as if it was written in the time of Pius XII,” he said.

But the practical cost of this, is the loss to the faith of Church members, he said.

“That is our responsibility in front of God our Father.”



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