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A widely circulated photo from the lesbian ceremony over which Fr. Michael Kopp presidedGloria TV / screenshot

UPDATE on November 14, 2019 at 5:47 p.m.: Gloria TV has released a photo from the ceremony showing that the lesbians exchanged rings.

WOLFSBURG, Austria, November 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― An Austrian diocese has confirmed that an Austrian priest presided over a church service for two women in a civil union.

A series of photographs of Fr. Michael Kopp with two women in wedding clothes in a Catholic church in Austria have been making the rounds on social media since last week. A spokesman from the Diocese of Graz-Seckau has confirmed that Kopp indeed held a service for the women. 

“The basic question is if homosexual people can feel themselves at home in the Church,” Thomas Stanzer told German Catholic news site this Monday. 

“Family spiritual advisor Michael Kopp answered ‘yes’ to this question,” he continued. 

Stanzer said Father Kopp “celebrated a liturgy of thanksgiving with two civilly married [sic] women who are both believing Christians and who had both found their way out of personal crises with the help of the Catholic Church.”

The diocesan spokesman underscored that this was “not a sacramental liturgy,” and quoted Pope Francis’ controversial encyclical Amoris Laetitia.

“Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (250) states,” Stanzer said.  

“At the same time it is stated there that the partnership-like connection of two homosexuals cannot be equalled with marriage (251). Both of these things Michael Kopp has followed.”

“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They 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,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (CCC 2357).

The 2003 Vatican document Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI), states: “In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”

The photographs of the service, which very much resemble wedding pictures, were first posted to a Polish social media account and later published by Gloria TV. In one photograph the two women, one in a white wedding dress and the other in a white suit, light a candle together. In the next they hold hands as Kopp holds his hand over them in blessing. Another photo shows the women processing into the church together, preceded by two flower girls. Two beribboned chairs await them at the front of the church. 

Kopp is the pastor of St. Margaret’s Catholic Church in Wolfsburg, Austria who hitherto has been known best for his occasional cabaret acts. According to the Austrian Unkerkaerner newspaper, Kopp has written two cabaret shows since he was ordained in 1997. Previously a “family pastor” in the Diocese of Gurk, Kopp has been with the Diocese of Graz-Seckau since January 2019. 

Kopp’s definition of “family” includes both “the root of every personal life existence” and also “every form of relationship among people in the most diverse constellations of common life.”

This is not, however, the Catholic definition of family. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, family stems from the small community of love, founded by a married couple, into which a child is born or adopted. 

“The family is the original cell of social life,” the Catechism says. “It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society” (CCC 2207).