Organizations representing a million Catholic women in the German-speaking areas of four countries have released an open letter protesting the Vatican’s ban on blessing same-gender couples and calling for a renewal of church teaching. Meanwhile, a key cardinal who has been critical of the ban has weighed in again.
Catholic Women’s Associations Call for Blessings
The letter from four Catholic women’s organizations states that, as the church is to be a “symbol of salvation in the world,” it must therefore oppose homophobia and advocate gender equality, according to science. It continues:
“Nobody can be excluded from the blessing in which the love of God is promised visibly and tangibly.”
The advocates for women’s equality call for “a renewal of the sexual and relational ethics of the Catholic Church,” one that appreciates same-gender relationships and in which the hierarchy dialogues with the faithful. It lists a number of the association’s commitments, including:
- “God’s love is promised to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. She doesn’t discriminate. She does not judge.
- “Sexuality is part of God’s good creation. Responsible sexual love relationships cannot be reduced to marriage.
- “Any long-term relationship with love, care and responsibility for one another gives children the space and protection they need for their life and growing up.”
The letter also states that the church cannot exclude, for when it does, it raises questions of its own credibility and discredits believers who are working for inclusion.
The letter was signed by the chairs of the Catholic Women’s Movement in Austria, the Catholic Women’s Movement in South Tyrol (Italy), the Catholic Women’s Community in Germany, the Catholic German Women’s Federation, and the Swiss Catholic Women’s Federation.
In a related note from Switzerland, Franziska Driessen-Reding, president of the Canton of Zurich’s Synodal Council, registered her protest with the Vatican ban. Interviewed by Kath.ch, Driessen-Reding said of the Vatican document on blessing:
“This double standard. Why on earth should one distinguish the love between two people into forbidden love and allowed love? Love is a wonderful thing, period. . .The most recent letter from Rome once again shows ignorance. We married people know the value of a lived partnership and can express ourselves more competently than the clergy.
Asked why she was so supportive of LGBTQ people, Driessen-Reding commented:
“Let me put it this way: the church radicalized me. I don’t know which of the pastors and bishops are really gay. But I know that there are quite a few. How can you take it? What does that mean psychologically? How long can this self-denial be endured? Bishops are also allowed to be gay.”
Cardinal Schönborn Speaks Out in Second Interview
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna again opined about the Vatican ban on blessings in an interview reported by Where Peter Is, which originally appeared on ORF. Previously, the cardinal had said same-gender couples who sincerely seek God’s blessing should not be denied it.
Schönborn criticized the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) communication and process, although affirmed his belief that the key issue for the document was not about saying “no” to same-gender couples being blessed, but rather upholding a heteronormative understanding of sacramental marriage.
The cardinal commented that he “wasn’t happy with both the timing and the way in which this was communicated,” in particular because it overshadowed Pope Francis’ apostolic visit Iraq with something that “is really not a central issue.” Asked about his role as a member of the CDF, Schönborn said he “found it very unfortunate that this very delicate topic wasn’t discussed in the plenary session” of members coming up in May. But he added, “I definitely stand by the core concern of this document: The ‘Yes’ to sacramental marriage.”
Asked in the interview about his previous comments in which he referred to the church as first a mother and then as a teacher when it comes to blessing people, Schönborn spoke of his personal relationship with a gay friend:
“I recently met a dear old friend, soon to be hundred years old, who has lived for 60 years in a faithful same-sex partnership. I must say to my dear mother Church: Isn’t that a value too? Isn’t that also something I must honor? And I also need to tell us, the insiders of the Church, to please discuss less about sexuality and more about love. Let’s talk more about successful relationships and less about what is and isn’t permitted. . .
“I remember many examples [Translator’s note: i.e. couples] which I personally got to know, where I’d say ‘Yes, I wish you well, may your partnership succeed’, and that of course applies equally to same-sex partnerships.”
It has been over a month since the Vatican’s ban on blessing same-gender couples was released, and yet protests against it continue. If the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith intended to stop conversations about such blessings, it has clearly failed. Even one of the Congregation’s members, Cardinal Schönborn, seems to admit as much.
To add your name to the thousands of Catholics and other supporters who have signed a pledge to bless same-gender couples, click here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 8, 2021
For all the previous posts concerning the Vatican’s ban on blessing same-gender couples, click here.
For a listing of Catholic leaders who have spoken positively about same-gender relationships and unions, click here.
For information about a Catholic blessing for a same-gender couple, click here.
For more information on how to be welcoming to married same-gender couples, click here.