The following is a statement from Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, in response to the same-gender blessing events in Germany on May 10, 2021.
New Ways Ministry strongly supports the Catholics in Germany, including priests, who today are blessing hundreds of same-gender couples. Their witness of bringing God’s grace to people who are asking for a blessing of their love is an example which we hope will spread to other nations.
We don’t see the decision to act as one of protest or defiance, but as one in which priests and the faithful at large are following their call by God to bless and affirm love in the many different ways it is manifested. LGBTQ Catholics know that the love they share is a love that has been divinely inspired and supported. Priests and pastoral ministers who choose to bless these couples recognize this act as part of their pastoral obligation to the people they minister with, to the church of which they are a part, and, ultimately, to God, who is love.
The blessings in Germany are part of a wider years-long discussion of ways that the Catholic Church in that country can affirm and welcome all LGBTQ people, and couples in particular. Those discussions are part of the German church’s Synodal Way process, a multi-year, wide-ranging discussion of Catholics from all vocations in the church: laity, clergy, theologians, vowed religious, and bishops. The synodal approach has been championed by Pope Francis as the best way for the church to deal with a variety of topics, including “hot-button” issues. It is a model which decentralizes authority in the church, allowing local Catholic leaders to decide what is best for their nations.
New Ways Ministry calls on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to open up such a synodal process here in the U.S. Catholic lay people here are ready to bless same-gender couples, as witnessed by the fact that thousands signed a public statement recently affirming their desire and commitment to do so. Scores of Catholic parishes have been doing outreach to LGBTQ people for decades now, and their number increases each month. The U.S. Catholic Church is ready for more open discussion on LGBTQ topics, and many other areas that cry out for more merciful and compassionate pastoral responses.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, May 10, 2021