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German bishop pushes diocese toward adopting ‘blessing’ for homosexual couples

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April 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – German Bishop Georg Bätzing, of the Diocese of Limburg, is inviting Church representatives, Catholic youth and lay organizations, as well as diocesan members to a discussion forum on 4 May in Wiesbaden to deal with the matter of a “Church's blessing” for “couples who cannot marry in the Catholic way,” including homosexual couples. Also in view are “remarried” divorcees and cohabiting couples. The diocesan website states that a blessing of a homosexual couple has already taken place in the past.

LifeSiteNews was able to obtain a letter dated March 29, 2019, signed by Dr. Beate Gilles, the diocesan official dealing with children, youth, and family matters. In her letter, Gilles makes it clear that the invitation directly stems from Bishop Bätzing: “Bishop Georg  Bätzing asks that this important question [of a Church blessing for couples who cannot marry in the Catholic Church] be discussed in the Diocese of Limburg in an open and uncontroversial manner. He has established a process group in order to accompany and structure this discourse,” she writes. 

The Diocese of Limburg confirmed to LifeSiteNews the upcoming May 4 event.

According to Gilles, this debate is about couples “who do not (yet) wish – or cannot – marry, about those who are civilly remarried or those who ask, as homosexual couples, for a blessing.”

The Dean of the Catholic Church of Frankfurt/M., Dr. Johannes zu Eltz, has prepared a plan “to make possible such a blessing for these couples,” Gilles further states.

The discussion group is to speak about the “tension” that exists in the Catholic Church between the “life reality” and the “teaching of the Church.” “We wish to hear from people,” Gilles adds “who ask the Church for a blessing for their partnership.”

Dr. Gilles also reminds the addressees of her letter that last year in February, a similar discussion forum has already taken place, but that this upcoming event is to reach out to an even larger audience. 

Homosexual acts are traditionally described as one of the four sins that cry to heaven for vengeance. Basing itself on Scripture and the natural law, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity” and are “intrinsically disordered.” Such acts are "contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Church teaches, moreover, that the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered” and constitutes for most a “trial.”

In a 1986 letter to bishops, the Church said that “special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.”

The Church calls for “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” for persons struggling with same-sex attraction while teaching that such “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

Attached to this letter is a page with a set of proposals concerning such a possible blessing of homosexual and other couples, written by Dr. zu Eltz in January of 2018. The good that is to be found in such couples who are not open to, or cannot receive the “high form of a Sacrament [of marriage].” Where there is good to be found in a relationship, the author explains, and “where there is Faith,” it is “worthy of being blessed.” The goods that he means here are “fidelity, care, responsibility, and commitment.” 

So that the Church can bless such a relationship, the prelate explains, a “binding declaration of the partners is needed that the partnership is meant to be for life.”

“In a blessing ceremony,” he continues, “one asks for God's blessing for a successful future of that which exists already.” Thus a blessing “does not constitute a sacramental bond between these two persons.”

In order to avoid confusion with the Sacrament of marriage, zu Eltz proposes not to bless the rings, not to ask the couple whether they are willing to marry each other, and other “symbolic acts” from the normal marriage ceremony. Nevertheless, such a Church blessing is a “liturgical action.”

During such a proposed ceremony, prayers could be said for reconciliation and penance, “with view of one's own life history,” but also “in view of wounds that the Church has caused (for example by degrading homosexual partnerships),” zu Eltz adds.

According to this plan, such a Church blessing would take place during a word liturgy. Thereby, “next to priests and deacons, also men and women with an episcopal liturgical mandate could preside over such a ceremony.”

“Nobody shall be duty-bound to lead such a ceremony,” he concludes at the end. 

The Diocese of Limburg has 630,000 Catholics.

On its website, the diocese has published a report on this discussion of blessings for homosexuals and other couples with the title “Blessing for all?” Here, a lesbian is describing her own path of finding a pro-LGBT Catholic group. She comments: “It was very liberating to speak there about topics that are important to me: my life in the Faith and my lesbian life. I became more and more confident: God wants me as a whole person, and that means to be lesbian and to be Catholic.”

A homosexual man, Thomas, describes how he met his partner at an LGBT Mass in Frankfurt/M. in the 1990s. The diocesan report explains: “After many conversations, their partnership has been blessed by a priest.” The report then quotes Thomas as saying: “Our  request for a blessing has been quickly fulfilled at the time, and it was also very important for our surrounding and for my Catholic parents-in-law.”

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.