Updated: May 04, 2021 05:58 AM GMT
Catholic parishes across Germany plan to offer blessing services for lovers in a campaign that will heighten the pressure in the church debate on the issue.
Catholic chaplains in parishes across Germany plan to invite people to "blessing services for lovers" on and around May 10.
The campaign, "Love Wins," was launched in Hamburg, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. The campaign's website said the aim was to celebrate "the diversity of people's different life plans and love stories" and to ask for God's blessing.
Gay and lesbian couples are also invited, which is attracting public attention because the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in mid-March that the Catholic Church had no authority to bless same-sex relationships.
KNA reported the Vatican statement has been widely criticized among Catholics in Germany.
"I have blessed buildings and sugar-beet-harvesting machines," said Father Burkhard Hose of Würzburg. "So why not also people who love each other?"
Father Hose and Father Bernd Mönkebüscher, a theologian from Hamm, have gathered about 11,000 signatures against the ban on blessing same-sex couples, KNA reported.
In the case of requests to bless same-sex couples, pastoral ministers are bound by their conscience
Birgit Mock, vice president of the Catholic German Women's Federation, said: "The current discussion could lead to a historic step: a positive appreciation of responsibly lived sexuality in the Catholic Church in Germany."
Mock and Bishop Helmut Dieser of Aachen head one of four working groups of the Synodal Path reform project. Their group deals with sexual morality, and the church's approach to homosexuality is among its topics.
Bishop Dieser has made clear that his office does not allow him to give a mandate to bless gay couples, but added: "In the case of requests to bless same-sex couples, pastoral ministers are bound by their conscience."
Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the German bishops' conference, criticized the blessing services. "They are not suitable as an instrument of church-political manifestations or protest actions," he said.
The Vatican is increasingly critical of the debates in Germany, but grassroots members are becoming ever more vocal in their demands for reforms.
Father Hose, a college chaplain, noted the Orthodox Church commemorates the biblical patriarch Noah May 10. God made a covenant with Noah after the flood -- under the sign of a rainbow. That is not far removed from the colors of the rainbow flag of the gay rights movement.
Metropolitan Hilarion of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church has praised the Vatican's ban on blessing same-sex couples. On this point, the teachings of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches were in agreement, he said.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.