ROME – Continuing to openly challenge the Vatican, several Catholic leaders in Germany are openly supporting the blessing of same-sex couples, with a massive blessing service scheduled for May 10, in direct opposition to Rome’s chief doctrinal office.
Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen said that the priests in his diocese will face no canonical consequence if they decide to bless gay and lesbian couples next month as part of the event called “Love wins, blessing service for lovers.”
However, the website organizing the campaign has no public blessings registered in his diocese to take place on May 10 or “around that date,” as the website reads.
His comments came in an interview with WDR earlier this week, and follow his comments on Easter, when he argued that there are “many blessings for gay couples” in Germany. He also said that the Catholic Church is not supposed to reject gay people but “find ways for homosexuals to be able to live together.”
Overbeck’s stance is in direct opposition to a statement released by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) March 15 with papal approval.
The document, technically an answer to a question posed to the CDF, argues that the Church cannot do so because “God does not bless sin.”
The Vatican never said who posed the original question.
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The response caused division both among the faithful and the hierarchy, particularly in Germany, which is currently undergoing a synodal path to try to address the Church’s response to clerical sexual abuse, while at the same time reviewing Church teaching on human sexuality, priestly celibacy and the ban on ordaining women into the priesthood.
Among the German high-ranking prelates who support the CDF’s response are Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne; Bishop Stephan Burger of Freiburg; and Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg.
“Love wins. Love is a blessing,” says the website for May 10th blessing of same-sex couples. “People who love each other are blessed. On May 10th, 2021, we invite you to various places in Germany to blessing services. We don’t want to exclude anyone. We celebrate the diversity of people’s different life plans and love stories and ask for God’s blessings. Without any secrecy. On this page you will find the services that take place and you can register for a service and send us a blessing.”
Organizers also ask that on that day, Catholics in Germany use “creative symbols to make visible how many people in the Church perceive the colorful diversity of different life plans and love stories of people as an enrichment and a blessing.”
Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma