Hundreds of priests in Germany bless gay couples in open defiance of Pope Francis

A movement launched by three parish priests and spread throughout Germany calls “love wins” this Monday’s day, in which at least a hundred parishes will hold religious services in which the priests will bless gay faithful couples. This is an open challenge to the ban reiterated by the Vatican on March 13, in which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared, with the approval of the Pope, that the Church “cannot bless a sin.”

According to ecclesiastical norms the bishops should sanction the rebels, but some have already said that they will not punish to their priests.

Many believe that the case of German gay couples, with their union blessed by their trace cures a before and after in the relations between the majority of the German bishops and the authority of the Pope.

Vicar Wolfgang Rothe blesses a couple. Photo: dpa

The president of the Episcopal Conference, Monsignor Georg Batzing, bishop of Limburg, put the handbrake and considered that the blessings “are not suitable as an instrument of political action or declaration of ecclesiastical policy.”

Batzing is also a progressive who participates in the two-year Synodal Path that will conclude in February 2022 when an assembly will launch the flaming proposals for reform and revolution in the Teutonic Church.

It is an assembly supported by the majority of the 68 bishops Germans in which the powerful lay movements and other realities also participate in the German church, one of the richest in the world, which suffers a continuous decrease in the number of its faithful, which currently reaches 22.5 of the 80 million population.

Renew the Church in response

The Synod Way was the answer to the overwhelming discoveries of sexual abuse cases that have overshadowed the life of German Catholicism in recent decades.

To face a huge loss of prestige, it was decided to escape forward. Discuss in a two-year Camino the main problems of the Church to renew it. The main themes are burning: ecclesiastical power and government, the situation of women and their access to the priesthood, openness to married priests, and sexual morality.

Vicar Wolfgang Rothe blesses a same-sex couple.  Photo: AP

Vicar Wolfgang Rothe blesses a same-sex couple. Photo: AP

The most conservative sectors have raised their voices and argue that the harshness of the majority’s positions will lead to a schism of the Germans from the Church of Rome, to the loss of communion with the Pope. Interestingly, the same result of the rebellion in the 16th century by the monk Martin Luther, which led to the historic Protestant Reformation.

At the gates of a schism

The teutonic schism It begins openly this Monday, May 10, the conservatives maintain, with the celebrations in the parishes of the blessings to gay couples, because the bishops are obliged to sanction those who violate the norms clearly reiterated by the Vatican two months ago that the priests cannot bless sins. And the exercise of homosexuality is a serious sin for the Church.

The blessings to gay unions mean comparing them with the marriage of a man and a woman in an indissoluble way, open to the transmission of life, the Vatican maintains.

The Bishop of Munich in Vestphalia, Monsignor Felix Glen, warned more than a month ago that he will not sanction priests from his diocese who participate in the initiative. Other bishops have said the same.

Jesuit Father Jan Korditschke, who leads the blessings campaign.  Photo: AP

Jesuit Father Jan Korditschke, who leads the blessings campaign. Photo: AP

“A huge scandal”

Conservative Cardinal Walter Brandmuller affirmed that “this is a huge scandal, a terrifying sign of heresy, schism and collapse of the Church ”.

The powerful Central Committee of German Catholics, the ZdX, which has championed blessings for gay couples for five years, reiterated its support for the initiative.

“These are celebrations of prayer in which people express to God what moves them,” Birgit Mock, spokeswoman for the Committee for Family Affairs, told the Associated Press in Berlin.

Mox said that this Monday he participates in a religious service with blessings to gay couples in the city of Hamm. “The fact that they ask for God’s blessing and thank Him for all the good things in their lives has deep roots in the Gospel ”, he affirmed.

The laity spokesperson pointed out that in German Catholicism “we need systemic changes, with a reevaluation of ecclesiastical morality on sexuality ”·.

Couples blessing in Cologne.  Photo: EFE

Couples blessing in Cologne. Photo: EFE

The priest Woligang Rothe, from Munich, said that it is necessary “to give a signal” to remove this from the backyards and place it in the center of the life of the Church, “he said after having celebrated a mass in the church of St. Benedict in which blessed several gay couples and also to heterosexual couples who are not married.

The blessings will continue to spread all week long and they will continue in the future, assured the participants of the movement that launched the idea of ​​the celebrations this Monday.

“Love wins”

In some parishes they have been placed colorful balloons and rainbow flags. Three thousand members of Catholic pastoral groups, priests, theologians and activists signed the declaration promoted by three priests that gave life to the “Love wins” movement.

Also in Austria there were blessings to gay couples powered by a movement of 350 priests. Acts of disobedience not sanctioned by the bishops were also announced, they were recorded in Switzerland, especially in Basel and St. Gallen.

In Belgium, John Bonny, archbishop of Antwerp, said he will not sanction priests in his diocese who bless gay unions.

In Rome, the retired but still influential Cardinal Camilo Ruini, who was one of the main protagonists of the Curia during the pontificates of Paul VI and John Paul II, said that “the Church has no power to bless same-sex unions ”.

“Only what is according to God’s designs can be blessed, not what is the opposite. People can be blessed to be converted, not confirmed in their sin. “

According to Joachim Frank, who is part of the Central Committee of the German laity, the blessings to gay couples will be officially approved at the final assembly of the Synodal Way in February 2022. “What we do not know is whether he will receive the necessary support from the two thirds of the bishops ”, he clarified.

Faithful attend blessing masses in Cologne.  Photo: EFE

Faithful attend blessing masses in Cologne. Photo: EFE

This Monday’s celebrations in Germany represent a stark contrast for the Pope, who gave his authorization to the declaration of the Doctrine of the Faith of March 13, but apparently holds a less intransigent personal position.

Francis sent a letter to the German bishops in 2020 trying to stop the audacity of the reforms proposed in the Synod Way, but his call did not receive any response.

One of the three parish priests who promoted the movement “Love wins”, Father Bukhard Hoze, from the diocese of Wurzburg, author of the motto “bless with courage”, said that “the Church loses more and more authority and credibility and sexuality is it has become a matter of power and abuse of power ”.

In the coming days it will be possible to better measure the dimensions of the movement that started this Monday in Germany. Conservative Catholics demand clarity from their bishops and the excommunication of those who do not respect the norms reiterated by the Vatican in March.

“We ask the bishops to take action. These celebrations in parishes are a provocation directed against the Pope ”, declared Clara Steinbrecher, of the feminine conservative movement“ María 1.0 ”. For his part, Father Hoze said that bishops who react with disciplinary measures “will be exposed.”

Vatican, correspondent



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