MUNICH, Germany – The president of the German Bishops’ Conference has declared that, in his view, Catholic priests can conduct blessing ceremonies for homosexual couples.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx told the Bavarian State Broadcasting’s radio service that “there can be no rules” about this question. Rather, the decision of whether a homosexual union should receive the Church’s blessing should be up to “a priest or pastoral worker” and made in each individual case, the German prelate stated.
Speaking on Feb. 3, on the occasion of his 10th anniversary as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Marx was asked why “the Church does not always move forward when it comes to demands from some Catholics about, for instance, the ordination of female deacons, the blessing of homosexual couples, or the abolition of compulsory [priestly] celibacy.”
Marx said that, for him, the important question to be asked regards how “the Church can meet the challenges posed by the new circumstances of life today – but also by new insights, of course,” particularly concerning pastoral care.
Describing this as a “fundamental orientation” emphasized by Pope Francis, Marx called for the Church to take “the situation of the individual, … their life-story, their biography, … their relationships” more seriously and accompany them, as individuals accordingly.
Marx has recently called for an individualized approach to pastoral care, which, he has said, is neither subject to general regulations nor is it relativism.
Such “closer pastoral care” must also apply to homosexuals, Marx told the Bavarian State Broadcaster: “And one must also encourage priests and pastoral workers to give people in concrete situations encouragement. I do not really see any problems there.”
The specific liturgical form such blessings – or other forms of “encouragement” – should take is a quite different question, the Munich archbishop continued, and one that requires further careful consideration.
Asked whether he really was saying that he “could imagine a way to bless homosexual couples in the Catholic Church,” Marx answered, “yes” – adding however, that there could be “no general solutions.”
“It’s about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies in other areas as well, which we can not regulate, where we have no sets of rules.”
The decision should be made by “the pastor on the ground, and the individual under pastoral care” said Marx, reiterating that, in his view, “there are things that can not be regulated.”