Pro-LGBT Catholic bishops, priests decry, defy Vatican’s ban on blessings for homosexual couples
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March 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-homosexual Catholic bishops and priests reacted with sadness, disappointment, and even shame over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) announcement this week that the Catholic Church cannot bless homosexual relationships since God “does not and cannot bless sin.”
Deutschen Welle reported that about 60 German priests had signed a letter this week stating that they will defy the CDF’s teaching and bless homosexual couples. “In view of the refusal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to bless homosexual partnerships, we raise our voices and say: 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.”
In a similar initiative in Austria, a group of about 350 priests organized by Pastor Helmut Schüller stated in a "Call to Disobedience 2.0" that they will “continue to bless same-sex couples." The group states that it “vehemently protests against the assumption that same-sex loving couples are not part of the divine plan. Here the attempt is made to undermine the reality of creation with dogmatizing presumptions.”
Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, said the statement will cause “disappointment” to many and should prompt LGBT advocates to “redouble our efforts to be creative and resilient in finding ways to welcome and encourage all LGBTQ people in our family of faith.”
“Today’s response, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, offers nothing new on the Church's teaching on the Sacrament of Matrimony,” wrote Cupich.
“Regardless, it needs to be read in the context of the teachings in the Catechism and the encouraging statements of Pope Francis to LGBTQ persons about their relationship to the church, as well as his urging that pastors welcome them with respect and sensitivity, recognizing, as the Congregation response does today, the many positive elements in same-sex relationships, ‘which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated.’ Yet, the understandable reaction among many to this response will be disappointment. This should prompt us in the Church and in the archdiocese to redouble our efforts to be creative and resilient in finding ways to welcome and encourage all LGBTQ people in our family of faith.”
Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane also pushed for more inclusion of active homosexuals within the Catholic Church due to the Vatican’s ban on blessings for homosexual couples.
“A Church which says we can’t ordain women is equally obliged to ask how we might include women in leadership … a Church which says we can’t bless same-sex unions is equally obliged to ask how we might include same-sex couples,” he tweeted March 16.
Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, who chairs the German Bishops’ Conference, said he was “not happy” with the statement from the CDF, suggesting that the teaching will not be followed by the Church in Germany.
“‘This gives the impression that the theological debate, which is currently being debated in various parts of the universal Church, including here in Germany, is to be ended as quickly as possible,” he said as reported by Katholisch. Bätzing added that this is not possible at all “because the discussion is intense and with good arguments in many places, and the theological inquiries about pastoral practice today cannot simply be put out of the way with one word of power.”
Franz-Josef Overbeck, bishop of Essen in Germany, told the Bild that, in spite of the ban on blessings for homosexual couples, he will “continue to accompany all people in pastoral care if they ask for it, regardless of the situation in life."
Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny said today that he felt “shame for my Church” and “intellectual and moral incomprehension” that Pope Francis would approve of the Congregation’s ban on blessing for same-sex couples. “I want to apologize to all for whom this is painful and incomprehensible,” he wrote. In response to the Congregation stating that God cannot bless sin, Bonny said that “sin is one of the most difficult theological and moral categories to define, and thus one of the last to cleave to individuals and their way of living together.”
The Belgian bishops as a group reacted with a statement that they will continue to follow Pope Francis’ controversial Encyclical Amoris Laetitia when it comes to homosexuals in the Catholic Church.
The bishops said that they “realize that for many homosexual believers, their parents and grandparents, their family and friends, this comes across as particularly painful.”
“For years, the Catholic Church community of our country in all its sections (bishops, priests, deacons and pastoral workers, theologians, scientists, politicians and social workers), together with other social actors, has been working towards a climate of respect, recognition and integration,” they state. “The bishops encourage their associates to continue to follow this path. They feel supported in this by the exhortation Amoris laetitia, The joy of love, which Pope Francis wrote after the 2015 Synod of Bishops: discern, guide and integrate; these remain the most important keywords for the bishops.”
Jesuit priest James Martin, in a series of tweets, called on those who advocate with him for the normalization of homosexuality within the Catholic Church to “never despair.”
“Today I received dozens of messages from #LGBTQ people, as well as their friends, families and allies, who told me they were disappointed, discouraged and disheartened by the Vatican’s latest pronouncement on barring the blessings of same-sex marriages,” he wrote on Twitter.
“For many of them, the document was profoundly discouraging, though it was perhaps not surprising, given the CDF’s longstanding position on this topic. Many people, encouraged by several German bishops, and other priests in the West who have ventured to give such blessings, were hoping that such blessings might represent a small way that the church might recognize what the CDF’s document called the ‘positive elements’ of these couples, even if they could not be married within the church, in a sacramental union. Especially painful for many LGBTQ people who contacted me today was the statement that God ‘does not and cannot bless sin.’”
“First, I want to say to my LGBTQ friends that I am with you in prayer. Second, know that the journey of the church with LGBTQ people is a long one, and Christ is with us--LGBTQ people, families, friends and allies--and will never leave us. But it is a journey,” he wrote.
Martin assured homosexuals that Jesus is on their “side,” suggesting that the CDF statement is comparable to a “cold” winter and a “difficult” Lent.
Jesuit priest Kenneth Boller, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in New York City, said he was “deeply saddened” by the CDF statement. “Especially painful are the words that God ‘does not and cannot bless sin.’” Boller said that “change in the Church occurs very slowly” regarding the acceptance of homosexuality, adding that “Christ is with us on this journey.”
On March 15, the CDF released its answer to the question about whether or not the Church has the “power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex.” The question was answered in the “negative” by the congregation’s prefect, Luis Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer. The congregation’s statement was assented to by Pope Francis.
The Congregation stated that it is “not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.”
“The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan,” the statement read.
Blessings for homosexual couples has been especially pushed by Catholic Church leaders in Germany, such as Cardinal Reinhard Marx and other bishops who are part of the country’s “Synodal Path,” and have called for a blessing of such relationships liturgically.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is one of the four sins that cry to heaven for justice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “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” (CCC 2357).
The CDF pointed out that in order to receive a blessing, one must “be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord.” The Congregation also emphasized that blessing of homosexual unions “cannot be considered licit” since “blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments.”
“This is because they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing invoked on the man and woman united in the Sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact ‘there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’”