German Catholics defy Vatican with same-sex blessings

German Catholics defy Vatican

Priests and Catholic pastoral workers in Germany defied the Vatican on May 10 by conducting blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Organisers held a day of protest in response to the Vatican’s recent declaration that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions.

The ceremonies, known as “Segnungsgottesdienste für Liebende,” or “blessing services for lovers,” were promoted using the hashtag “#liebegewinnt” (“love wins”).

Organisers said that the services were open to all couples, including, and in particular, those of the same sex.

CNA Deutsch reported that ceremonies took place in around 80 cities in Germany and in Zürich, Switzerland’s largest city.

Some say this is the latest effort by liberal German Catholics to build a more progressive version of their church.

But Würzburg student pastor Fr. Burkard Hose confirmed in his address during the blessing ceremony that in the past, many people had been blessed “in secret.”

“We will continue to do this,” he said, adding: “The Church does not have the authority to withhold blessings.”

The ceremonies were organised as a response to a statement in March by the Vatican’s doctrinal office, approved by Pope Francis, prohibiting blessings of gay relationships on the grounds that God “cannot bless sin.”

The Vatican statement, issued with the approval of Pope Francis, sparked protests in the German-speaking Catholic world.

Several bishops expressed support for blessings of same-sex couples, while churches displayed LGBT pride flags. A group of more than 200 theology professors signed a statement criticising the Vatican.

Many German Catholics considered the document as aimed particularly at them.

Since last year, German bishops and laypeople have been holding a national synod that is considering several potential changes to Catholic life. Of particular note is the liberalised teaching on sexuality and the ordination of women.

So far, the blessings have come off without incident, said Klaus Nelissen, one of the campaign organisers. Though one priest in Munich said he received hostile emails before he led a blessing ceremony Sunday afternoon.

The Rev. Wolgang Rothe said the emails threatened him with the “wrath of God” and that one said: “You will die and go immediately to hell.”

Four policemen guarded the Munich event in the Church of St. Benedict, in which about 30 couples, about 10 of them gay or lesbian, took part, Father Rothe said. Church employees in robes held up rainbow banners as the priest read from the Gospel.

“It was a great experience, we felt God’s blessing,” Father Rothe said. “Heavens were open. All people were happy.”

The president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, has said the blessings “are not suitable as an instrument of church-political manifestations or protest actions” but he hasn’t threatened disciplinary action.


Wall St Journal

Catholic News Agency

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