Delegates at the fifth assembly of the German Synodal Way, meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 11, 2023, applaud after the he passage of a text calling for changes to the German Church’s approach to gender identity. / Jonathan Liedl/National Catholic Register
CNA Staff, Mar 17, 2023 / 08:53 am (CNA).
Following the conclusion of the German Synodal Way, several bishops have announced plans to put into practice resolutions passed by the process, including liturgical blessings of same-sex unions in their churches.
The Synodal Way, which concluded in Frankfurt on March 11, “give[s] us the tailwind we need for concrete changes in our diocese,” Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück said March 14.
Bode — who is vice president of the German Bishops’ Conference — said his diocese encouraged “all couples in our diocese who cannot or do not want to marry in church but still want to put their relationship under a church blessing” to “get in touch with us.” He added that such celebrations were already available in some parishes of his diocese.
Bode on Tuesday also announced that laypeople would be able to baptize babies and “regularly” preach at homilies, CNA Deutsch reported.
Another German prelate, Bishop Heiner Wilmer of Hildesheim, added his support, telling staff in his diocese: “It is of great importance to me that LGBTQ people are accompanied pastorally, spiritually, and liturgically. I welcome the Synodal Way’s endorsement of establishing a task force to develop a handout for celebrations of blessing for same-sex couples as well as remarried divorcees,” CNA Deutsch reported.
On Friday last week, the German bishops and other delegates of the Synodal Way passed a resolution to develop and provide Church blessings to same-sex unions.
Titled “Blessing ceremonies for couples who love each other,” the measure was opposed by only nine of 58 bishops, while 11 bishops abstained.
German bishops who have previously voiced public support for the blessing of same-sex unions in the Catholic Church include Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising and Bishop Heinrich Timmerervers of Dresden-Meißen.
In March 2022, Cardinal Marx said he had personally blessed a same-sex couple in Los Angeles.
One year earlier, in March 2021, the Vatican confirmed that the Catholic Church does not have the power to give liturgical blessings to homosexual unions. Answering the question “does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex,” the Congregation — now the Dicastery — for the Doctrine of the Faith responded: “Negative.”
In an accompanying note, the Vatican’s doctrine office explained that blessings are sacramentals, and “consequently, in order to conform with the nature of sacramentals, when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed 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.”