Numerous Roman Catholic priests in Germany say they’ll conduct blessing services for same-sex couples in the next few days, defying Pope Francis’s directive against such actions.
The church does not perform marriages for same-sex couples, and the Vatican has made clear that priests are not to bless civil unions or other less formal partnerships for them either. God “does not and cannot bless sin,” said a Vatican document released in March with the pope’s approval.
However, scores of German clergy have taken a stand that same-sex relationships are not sinful, and they plan to bless these unions in services set for Monday and the surrounding days, CBS News reports.
“In view of the refusal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to bless homosexual partnerships, we raise our voices and say: We will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership in the future and bless their relationship,” says a statement issued by a German Catholic group called Love Wins.
“We do not refuse a blessing ceremony," the statement added. "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. Theological arguments and knowledge gained are sufficiently exchanged. We do not accept that an exclusive and outdated sexual morality is carried out on the back of people and undermines our work in pastoral care.”
The group has posted a list of churches offering these blessings. Some ceremonies won’t be for individual couples but will be for groups of couples as part of a larger service or will include blessings of friendships and other relationships as well.
“At the blessing celebration we want to bless love, which is diverse: old and young couples, short and long loves, love between man and woman, between woman and woman, and between man and man, love and every single person,” says a post from a church in Buxtehude.
“Life is colorful, love is colorful, God's blessing is colorful,” says one from a Frankfurt church. “We celebrate and share that with each other and not only do not exclude anyone but really invite everyone who wants to celebrate and bless their love (or the longing for it) with us before God.”
Some other churches invited same-sex couples to meet with their clergy to plan individual ceremonies. Some of the larger group services will be on Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and those being held in person will have safety measures in place. Some services will be livestreamed.
Birgit Mock, a member of the Central Committee of German Catholics, praised the clergy group’s statements and actions. “Stop signs from Rome don’t help,” she told CBS. “On the contrary: We need an honest theological discussion; we have to — finally — recognize as a church that sexuality is part of life. And not only in the marriage as man and woman, but in all loyal, dignified and respectful love relationships. Everything else is no longer up to date. And also does not correspond to our image of God.”
“We can trust that God loves us as we are created. And that he has long been ‘there’ in love relationships,” she added.