Top German Bishop “Not Happy” with Vatican Ban on Blessing Same-Gender Couples

Bishop Georg Bätzing

A top German bishop has expressed his disappointment with the Vatican’s recent statement banning the blessing of same-gender unions, suggesting the question is not settled.

Katholisch.de reported on comments by Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, who chairs the German Bishops’ Conference and has repeatedly stated his support for blessing same-gender couples. Bätzing said he was “not happy” with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s intervention in the debate over such blessings. The report continued:

“‘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,” said the Bishop of the KNA. But that 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,’ said Bätzing.”

Bätzing also released a statement on the website of the German Bishops’ Conference, saying (via Google Translate):

“In Germany and in other parts of the universal Church there have been discussions for a long time as to how this teaching and doctrinal development can generally be advanced with sound arguments – on the basis of fundamental truths of faith and morality, ongoing theological reflection and also in openness to newer ones results of the human sciences and the living situations of people today. There are no easy answers to questions like these.

“The Synodal Path, which the German Bishops’ Conference has initiated with the Central Committee of German Catholics, therefore endeavors to discuss the topic of successful relationships in a comprehensive way that also takes into account the necessity and the limits of church teaching development. The viewpoints put forward by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today must and will of course find their way into these discussions. “

Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, a support of blessings for same-gender couples, commented, “We will continue to accompany all people in pastoral care if they ask for it, regardless of the life situation.”

Lay Catholics in Germany were more sharply critical about the Congregation’s ban on blessings, reported Katholisch.de:

“ZdK [Central Committee of German Catholics] President Thomas Sternberg expressed his disappointment with the document in a statement published on the Catholic Committee’s website. The note is part of a ‘sequence of disturbances of the Synodal Way’. The blessings remained a topic that is being discussed not only in Germany but elsewhere as well, Sternberg said. An advancement of Catholic teaching, as moral theologians have long been calling for, should not simply be rejected. The catechism alone is not enough to justify it. Sternberg also criticized the ‘fixation on the sexual act’ in the note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This is ‘shortening, inappropriate and no longer understood by believers’.

“The Catholic Women’s Community of Germany (kfd) sharply criticized the Vatican No. ‘We clearly reject the position from Rome published today, even though we know about the tension between church teaching and the reality of people’s lives,’ it said in a statement. . . ‘It is clear to us that we will continue on this subject in the Synodal Way.'”

But some bishops in Germany welcomed the Vatican’s ban, reported Katholisch.de. These included Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg and Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, who suggested the question of whether to bless same-gender couple was “leading to polarization,” and the Vatican’s intervention will help with “greater unanimity.”

Finally, in a further news development, America reported that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which issued the ban in a statement, had done so without wider consultation of the congregation’s members. Rather, “the matter was discussed only by a small group of some top C.D.F. officials,” before being proposed to Pope Francis for his approval.

In recent years, Catholics in Germany and Austria have been increasingly open to a discussion about such blessings. A number of bishop have even expressed support for offering some type of ritual acknowledgement of same-gender couples. Last year, a working document for the Synodal Way spoke positively of same-gender relationships, and the Archdiocese of Salzburg published a book on the topic of blessings. While the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not provide a reason for why it released a responsum ad dubium on same-gender church blessings at this point, some commentators have speculated that it is because of the German-speaking church’s prophetic conversations.

And Bishop Bätzing is correct that this dialogue will continue.

For a listing of Catholic leaders who have spoken positively about same-gender relationships and unions, click here.

For more information on how to be welcoming to married same-gender couples, click here.

–Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, March 16, 2021

Previous Reports

March 15, 2021: “New Ways Ministry Calls Vatican’s Ban on Blessing Same-Gender Couples An Impotent Decision

March 15, 2021: “Catholic Parishes Are Already Supporting and Celebrating Same-Gender Couples

6 replies
  1. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    I have to wonder what corner Francis may have been backed into by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith . It almost seems out of character for him to sign onto something so unneccessary . This ban serves to anger, annoy or disappoint some and please, perhaps, far fewer. As I have said before, the Church keeps picking the wrong battles.

    Reply
  2. Cheryl Rogers
    Cheryl Rogers says:

    Thank you Bishop and German Catholics. The impact of this has affected me to even more deeper thought and discernment activity then I normally do in a day. I also deeply identify with what God may have meant overall with the phrase “Let my people GO!” and also when Jesus asks Peter 3 times “Do you love me”, then “feed my sheep” We who love in mind body and Spirit our same-sex, are the Children of God also, made in the image and likeness of God…..mistakes? none. We are the sheep, we need feeding…….like all of us and all are sinners. Please Vatican stop continueing to single the LBGTQ community out to take the fall of all the ‘evil’ in the world. Do you not know that WE are a community of LOVE not limited by your sick images of sex only but alive and well in love…..and don’t we believe that God is Love as we sing and pray it? Look first at the huge splinter in your own eyes before you continue to keep alive the damage that your ‘hate crimes’ against us does to not only us physically and mentally but also emotionally and spiritually………please Vatican listen to Jesus’ way and learn from us. We may in fact by the way you treat us, your ‘neighbor’, be your final salvation of YOUR soul or its damnation. Walk the way of Christ. Begin after all these years of deferring your guilts to our community to deflect shame/guilt from your omission/commission behavior and truly be a welcoming hospitable church where Christ ate and drank with the LBGTQ people of his time, chose a woman, Magdelaine to be the first one to announce the resurrection, chose David who lusted Bathseba murdered her husband yet Jesus came from his line? Look to the wisdom of the Bible and live the message truly before it is too late and not just finances are dwindling from your coffers but the gifts from the LBGQT community and their families and friends will continue to be shown the door and put out of the Catholic community leaving a tasteless, flat, homogenized church not fit even for the Vatican.
    Amazing this statement comes during lent. How much heavier can the Vatican make my cross. I continue to pray for my enemies as Jesus asked me to. May God help us all. Thank you again Bishop, I am most blessed to know you stood your faith.

    Reply
  3. Sarasi
    Sarasi says:

    You can feel the pain and disappointment flowing from people’s wounds as a result of the statement. Still, one of the most egregious ideas in the poison pen letter is one purportedly said by Francis himself in another document (AL, I think) … that gay families are in no way analogous to married heterosexual families. Whatever doctrinal path led them to this conclusion, the cruelty and ignorance cannot be ignored. Anyone who knows any LGBTQ family knows in their bones: loving families are all alike in the same ways (as Tolstoy kinda said), whether they’re straight or LGBTQ. The principle the CDC believes operates in families–some weird, mysterious heebie-jeebie “male” input and “female” input that beams toward infant souls and makes them appropriately ordered toward The Plan in the eyes of God simply doesn’t exist. I’m so sick of it.

    Reply
  4. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    I can’t help thinking of those words in John’s first letter: “God is love. And those who abide in love, abide in God, and God in them.”

    In order to denigrate, demonize, discriminate against the relationships of same gender couples, opponents of such relationships need to deny the existence of the love that such couples live – the love in which God abides. That is a tragic thing to do – to face the presence of God in a relationship, and call that relationship a sin.

    And that is why such a doctrine must and will change, and is indeed already changing despite all attempts to prevent the change.

    Reply

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