Bishop Pledges Not to Sanction Priests Who Bless Same-Gender Couples in May Event

Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck

A German bishop has pledged not to sanction any priest who blesses a same-gender couple during a church reform event that is being organized to contradict the Vatican’s recent ban on such blessings.  Meanwhile, another German bishop reiterated his support for new ways of thinking about sexuality.

Crux reported on this latest development in the widespread movement of Catholics defying the Vatican’s ban on blessing such couples. German reformers are organizing a May 10 action in support of blessings. The report continued:

“Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen said that the priests in his diocese will face no canonical consequence if they decide to bless gay and lesbian couples next month as part of the event called ‘Love wins, blessing service for lovers.’ . . .

“His comments came in an interview with WDR earlier this week, and follow his comments on Easter, when he argued that there are ‘many blessings for gay couples’ in Germany. He also said that the Catholic Church is not supposed to reject gay people but ‘find ways for homosexuals to be able to live together.'”

Bishop Overbeck has previously expressed his support for the church offering such blessings, and he has said the church needs to fundamentally reassess its approach to homosexuality.

Organizers of the May event are asking people to hold blessing services on that day. Crux added, “Organizers also ask that on that day, Catholics in Germany use ‘creative symbols to make visible how many people in the Church perceive the colorful diversity of different life plans and love stories of people as an enrichment and a blessing.'” To learn more about the event, click here.

In related news, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, who heads the German Bishops’ Conference, again reiterated his support for blessing same-gender couples. National Catholic Reporter quoted him as saying:

“‘People in homosexual partnerships want the blessing of the church, one that is not concealed. . .They want the church to hold their life in such value that they are given the blessing of God and not denied it.’

“‘We must face up to this wish. . .For this we need an intense confrontation. We can no longer answer these questions with a simple “yes” or ‘no.” This is not possible.’ . . .

“‘I believe that we must evaluate homosexuality and life partnerships outside of marriage in a new way. . .We can no longer go on the assumption of natural law alone, but must think much more strongly in such categories as caring and responsibility for one another.'”

After the Vatican ban was first announced, Bätzing, in his role as episcopal conference president, said he was “not happy” with the decision. (For further details on this story, see The Tablet’s report.)

Across the border in Austria, Bishop Hermann Glettler of Innsbruck has suggested that rather than priests blessing same-gender couples, such blessings could be conferred by families in the context of a Liturgy of the Word. Katholisch.de reported (via Google Translate):

“‘It was “old school” to think that such a sensitive issue could be resolved with a simple clarification,’ said Glettler of the [Vatican ban]. When dealing with homosexuals it is ‘an important pastoral field’ that belongs in the local church. ‘I would have liked not to have enshrined everything in writing,” said the bishop. . .”

Glettler also noted that while the church will always affirm a heteronormative understanding of marriage, based on gender complementarity, the question of marriage is fundamentally about a sacrament, not a blessing, a difference he said has been forgotten of late.

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 21, 2021

Other Resources

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.

1 reply
  1. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    Bishop Overbeck has taken a bold and brave stand. The best approach to this sort of thoughtless discrimination is to just say “no”. As much as I like Francis, he needs to stop speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

    Reply

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