German Catholic bishops approve blessing same-sex relationships

German Catholic same-sex blessings

German Catholic Bishops approved the blessing of same-sex relationships during their final synod assembly, defying the Vatican’s stance against such blessings.

The five-page document, “Blessing ceremonies for couples who love each other,” was passed by 176 votes for, 14 against, and 12 abstentions at its second reading. The vote formally adopts it as a resolution of the synodal way.

The document calls on bishops to “officially allow blessing ceremonies in their dioceses for couples who love each other but to whom sacramental marriage is not accessible or who do not see themselves at a point of entering into a sacramental marriage.”

“This also applies to same-sex couples on the basis of a re-evaluation of homosexuality as a norm variant of human sexuality,” it explains.

The German bishops supported the text by 38 votes in favour, 9 against, and 11 abstentions.

Maria 1.0, an organisation that seeks to support traditional Catholic doctrine, tweeted after the vote: “Only nine German bishops vote against a blessing form for homosexual couples. Eleven bishops appear to have no opinion and abstain. Incomprehensible.”

The move comes after months of discussions as part of the German Catholic Church’s “Synodal Way,” a process of reform that aims to address issues such as clerical celibacy, women’s roles in the church, and homosexuality.

Document defies the Vatican

However, the document appears to defy a 2021 Vatican declaration that “the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex”.

During the debate, Bishop Gregor Maria Franz Hanke of Eichstätt warned against the proposed move, saying that he hoped “this step is not going to tear us apart the way the Anglican Church finds itself torn apart”.

Last month, after the Church of England decided to allow the blessing of same-sex relationships, a dozen leading archbishops, most in the global South, called for a break with that church, the historical progenitor of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

At Friday’s debate in Frankfurt, Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen said, to applause from the assembly, “I pay attention to what is happening in Africa, but I expect others to respect what we are doing here as well”.

Blessings of same-sex relationships by Catholic priests have been common in Germany for years, with the tolerance of many bishops there, but Friday’s vote gives unprecedented official approval to the practice.


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