German bishops’ leader wants ‘common line’ on same-sex blessings

German bishops'

When the German bishops’ conference meets in Dresden this week, the group’s chairman has a particular aim.

Bishop Georg Bätzing wants Germany’s bishops to support the prospect of liturgical blessings for same-sex couples.

The German Catholic news agency KNA says the German bishops’ leader’s agenda will call for “a common line in favour of blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples” at the bishops’ plenary assembly.

The gathering is taking place just days before the final scheduled meeting of Germany’s controversial Synodal Way.

The Synodal Way has been a multi-year initiative bringing together bishops and select lay people to discuss far-reaching changes to Church teaching and structures.

Among the documents scheduled for discussion at the 9-11 March synodal assembly is a paper advocating same-sex blessings.

The paper defies a Vatican declaration in 2021 that “the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex”.

Nonetheless, the document – “Blessing ceremonies for couples who love each other” – is due to have its second reading at next month’s meeting in Frankfurt.

It could them be formally adopted as a Synodal Way resolution.

Bätzing has previously expressed support for same-sex blessings. He has said publicly that he intends to seek a united front on the issue at the bishops’ Dresden meeting, however.

A press release announcing the plenary meeting noted that the 65 members of the German bishops’ conference will discuss “the current issues of the synodal way, especially with a view to the fifth and thus last synodal assembly”.

It doesn’t mention any specific topics though.

Several German bishops have publicly backed same-sex blessings, while others s have expressed opposition.

If German media reports are accurate, Bätzing may be seeking to avoid a repeat of the scenes at the last synodal assembly in September.

That prompted protests when the bishops unexpectedly failed to pass a text calling for a change in the Church’s approach to sexual ethics.

KNA claims the March synodal assembly will address a potentially “even more controversial” document on gender issues.

The text, “Dealing with gender diversity,” will also have its second reading in March.

The draft document condemns the “wilful negative politicisation of intersex and transgender persons in the Church and in society”.

It also says “all ordained ministries and pastoral vocations in the Church should be open to the intersex and transgender baptised and confirmed who sense a calling for themselves.”


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