Religion

Priests begin mass blessings of same-sex couples in defiance of the Pope and the Vatican

Patrick Kelleher May 11, 2021
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Catholic Churches Bless Same-Sex Couples In Nationwide Event

Brigitte Schmidt (R), a pastoral worker blesses a same-sex couple, Nini and Juliana Weinmeister-Bisping, in Cologne. (Andreas Rentz/Getty)

Catholic priests in Germany have defied the Vatican by offering blessings to same-sex couples in group ceremonies in more than 100 churches.

Numerous churches across the country performed mass blessings of same-sex couples in recent days after the Vatican ruled in March that such ceremonies should not go ahead because God “cannot bless sin”.

Some of the churches were decked in rainbow decorations to mark the occasion, while priests delivered empowering sermons about the need for LGBT+ inclusion in the Catholic Church. Around 20 of the services were live-streamed.

Jubilant photos from the ceremonies show same-sex couples, wearing face masks and observing social distancing measures, queuing up to receive a church blessing for the first time.

A couple hugs each other, after Brigitte Schmidt, a pastoral worker blesses the same-sex couple. (Andreas Rentz/Getty)
Chantal Hoeffer and Ivonne Fuchs smile at each other before receiving a church blessing.
Chantal Hoeffer and Ivonne Fuchs smile at each other before receiving a church blessing. (Andreas Rentz/Getty)
Brigitte Schmidt (R), a pastoral worker blesses a same-sex couple, Chantal Hoeffer and Ivonne Fuchs, at the Catholic St. Johannes XXIII church on May 10, 2021 in Cologne, Germany.
Brigitte Schmidt (R), a pastoral worker blesses a same-sex couple, Chantal Hoeffer and Ivonne Fuchs, at the Catholic St. Johannes XXIII church on May 10, 2021 in Cologne, Germany. (Andreas Rentz/Getty)
Brigitte Schmidt, a pastoral worker blesses a same-sex couple, Ralf Michael Berger and Andreas Helfrich, at the Catholic St. Johannes XXIII church on May 10, 2021 in Cologne, Germany.
Brigitte Schmidt, a pastoral worker blesses a same-sex couple, Ralf Michael Berger and Andreas Helfrich, at the Catholic St. Johannes XXIII church on May 10, 2021 in Cologne, Germany. (Andreas Rentz/Getty)

In a mass blessing ceremony on Monday (10 May), Hans-Albert Gunk of the Dominikanerkloster St Albertus Magnus church told congregants that the rainbow is “a political sign”, The Washington Post reports.

“God excludes no one from his love,” Gunk said, before same-sex couples lined up in front of him to receive a church blessing.

Alexander Langwald, 42, and his partner were among the couples who received a blessing from Gunk. Speaking to The Washington Post, Langwald explained: “It’s about equality, that we all belong to God’s creation, no matter in which relationship we live.”

Woman and her partner ‘moved very deeply’ by Catholic Church blessing

The mass blessing initiative was co-organised by gay priest Bernd Mönkebüscher. After the Vatican banned blessings for same-sex couples in March, he and his colleagues collected 2,650 signatures supporting such ceremonies for LGBT+ people.

The petition “made big waves in Germany”, he said, so activists took things a step further and came up with the idea of a national day blessings for same-sex lovers.

“We said that we wanted to send a conciliatory signal for people who feel misunderstood and who feel branded as sinners,” Mönkebüscher said.

Monika Schmelzer, 65, and her partner were another one of the couples who received a blessing as part of the initiative.

“It touches and moves me very deeply,” Schmelter said. “On the one hand, I feel sadness that this is only happening now, in my seventh decade of life.

“But on the other hand, I tear up, because there is now some movement in our church.”

There was uproar among Catholic Church members in March when the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) released an explanatory note banning blessings for same-sex couples.

Johan Bonny, bishop of Antwerp, told The Tablet in April that 700 young people in Belgium’s Catholic stronghold have formally left the church since the Vatican issued its ruling, while an additional 2,000 have cancelled baptismal registrations.

There was some hope that Pope Francis would help liberalise the Catholic Church’s regressive approach to the LGBT+ community following his ascent to the top position in 2013.

However, the Vatican has repeatedly reaffirmed its position that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered” and that trans people are moving “away from nature”.

The Catholic Church bases its teachings on the Bible – but a new study from the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research suggests that many of the passages concerning homosexuality have been mistranslated and misinterpreted.

The study, released on 5 May, found that the Bible actually only prohibits incest and adultery between men, while no mention is made of sex between women.

 

Related topics: Catholic Church, Germany, Pope Francis, same sex marriage

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