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Cardinal opposes Church’s ban on blessing same-sex unions: ‘I was not happy about the declaration’

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn argues that blessing a same-sex couple is the same as giving a blessing to someone who asks for one on the street.
Thu Mar 25, 2021 - 9:11 pm EST
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Cardinal Schönborn during last Synod on the Family John-Henry Westen/LifeSite

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VIENNA, Austria, March 25, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – In a recent interview with Kathpress and the Austria archdiocesan media outlet Der Sonntag, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn lashed out at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) March 15 ruling that homosexual couples could not be blessed by the Church, complaining that the judgment “hurts many people to the core.”

The Vatican decree bans the blessing of same-sex unions on the basis that the Church “does not and cannot bless sin,” rendering such actions “illicit.” 

After the CDF’s responsum, a slew of pro-LGBT clergy have expressed dismay and outrage at the ruling, with some 350 priests in Austria organizing to “continue to bless same-sex couples,” in defiance of the Vatican. In Germany, approximately 200 theologians and 2,000 priests signed a letter promising to bless homosexual couples: “We will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership and bless their relationship in the future. We do not refuse a blessing ceremony.”

Several reports from Vatican insiders suggest that officials within the Vatican, and possibly Pope Francis himself, are angry and distancing themselves from the recent official document that prohibited blessings for same-sex couples.

Schönborn, a Dominican and theologian as well as the second-highest ranking cardinal in the Church, is seemingly the first cardinal to openly and directly oppose the recent ruling after revealing that he is at odds with the CDF on blessing same-sex couples, even disappointed by the declaration. 

The head of the church in Austria placed the question of blessing homosexual relationships “in the same category as the question of whether this (blessing) is possible for remarried or unmarried partnerships.” His judgment on the matter was that, “(if) the request for a blessing is sincere,” and desired by a couple from God to aid “a life path,” homosexual or otherwise, “then such a blessing will not be refused.”

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Many homosexuals, he said, are looking to the Church “as their mother,” explaining that, for this reason, “this declaration has hit many so particularly painfully, because they have the feeling that they are being rejected by the Church.” 

The Church, Schönborn said, “must teach, but she is first a mother. And many same-sex sentient and living people are particularly sensitive to this very question: ‘Is the Church mother to us?’” He asserted that a “mother will not refuse the blessing.”

“A blessing is not a reward for good behavior, but a plea for help from above,” Schönborn continued. He used the example of being asked for blessings by passers-by on the street, from whom he does not “first ask exactly about their living conditions and situation,” yet will still “gladly give them this blessing,” as if to draw an analogy between this example and blessing same-sex relationships.

In a weak nod toward the Church’s ancient teaching on the “intrinsic disorder” of homosexual acts, the Austrian prelate said, as an ordained minister, he would inform a couple in a homosexual partnership: “You have not realized the whole ideal.” He did not say he would direct them to the truth about homosexual relations, rather instructing that such a couple ought to live “based on human virtues, without which there is no successful partnership. And that deserves a blessing.”

“Whether the right form of expression for this is an ecclesiastical blessing ceremony -- that is something to think about carefully,” he added.

According to the cardinal, the CDF was attempting to bring the focus to the “high esteem in which sacramental marriage is held … which has become almost a rarity in today's world,” and quell the notion that a same-sex union could ever be equal to marriage. He suggested that “this ‘yes’ to the family need not be said in a ‘no’ to all other forms (of sexual union).”


  austria, blessings, catholic, christoph schönborn, congregation for the doctrine of the faith cdf, germany, homosexuality, lgbt, pope francis, same-sex unions, vatican

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