Progressive Catholics in Germany have announced their intent to offer blessings to same-sex couples at dozens of churches around the country this week in defiance of a recent Vatican ban on the practice.
The “Love Wins” campaign, which began in Hamburg, said it aims to celebrate “the diversity of people’s different life plans and love stories” and to ask for God’s blessing on those plans, beginning on May 10.
In mid-March, the Vatican’s doctrinal office (CDF) released a document declaring that the Church has no authority to bless homosexual unions, noting that God Himself “does not and cannot bless sin.”
Blessings require both “the right intention of those who participate” and “that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation,” declared the text, issued with the express approval of Pope Francis.
For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships that involve “sexual activity outside of marriage,” it read, “as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”
Blessing an illicit sexual union would be “to approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God,” it said.
The Vatican declaration has generated significant opposition in the German-speaking world where blessings of same-sex unions have become quite common.
Jesuit Father Jan Korditschke said he will lead blessings for same-sex couples in Berlin at a service on May 16. The Jesuit order is noted for its disproportionately high number of homosexuals, with one American Jesuit estimating that as many as 50 percent of his confreres are gay.
“I am convinced that homosexual orientation is not bad, nor is homosexual love a sin,” Korditschke said last Friday. “I want to celebrate the love of homosexuals with these blessings because the love of homosexuals is something good.”
The priest said he is angered by the Church’s “homophobia,” in reference to Catholic teaching that homosexual practice is sinful.
“I stand behind what I am doing, though it is painful for me that I cannot do it in tune with the church leadership,” Father Korditschke said, adding that “the homophobia of my church makes me angry and I am ashamed of it.”
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In April, the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, also declared his opposition to the Vatican prohibition on blessing same-sex couples.
“I believe that we have to assess homosexuality and lived partnerships outside of marriage differently,” said Bätzing, the bishop of the diocese of Limburg. “We can no longer proceed solely from natural law, but have to think much more in terms of care and personal responsibility for one another.”
“In this regard, I would like to see a further development of Catholic teaching on sexual ethics,” he said.
“We can no longer answer these questions simply with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ That is not possible,” he said.
“I understand the negative opinion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it reflects the state of Church teaching,” he said. “But that doesn’t help, because there has long been a pastoral development that goes beyond that.”
“And that means change is coming,” he contended.
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