A top cardinal and close advisor to Pope Francis has acknowledged he blessed an LGBTQ couple, while also calling for church teaching on homosexuality to be reformed.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising made his comments in an interview with the German magazine Stern. According to the National Catholic Reporter, Marx described the blessing over which he presided:
“‘A few years ago in Los Angeles, after a service, two came to ask for my blessing. So I did. It wasn’t a wedding ceremony. We can’t offer the sacrament of marriage.'”
Marx, who is part of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisers and formerly headed the German Bishops’ Conference, also critiqued church teaching:
“‘The catechism is not set in stone. One may also question what it says,’ Marx told the weekly magazine Stern in an interview published March 31.
“‘Homosexuality is not a sin. It corresponds to a Christian attitude when two people, regardless of gender, stand up for each other, in joy and sorrow,’ he said. The value of love was also shown in ‘not making the other person an object, not using him or her or humiliating him or her.’
“Marx added: ‘LGBTQ+ people are part of creation and loved by God, and we are called upon to stand against discrimination.’ He also said, ‘Those who threaten homosexuals and anyone else with hell have understood nothing.'”
The Stern interview is the second time this month that the cardinal has made headlines for his LGBTQ-inclusive posture. Earlier in March, Marx apologized to LGBTQ people for ways the church has mistreated them, doing so at a Mass celebrating twenty years of LGBTQ pastoral care in his archdiocese.
The admission from Marx now regarding his decision to bless a same-gender couple is a sign of his own evolution on the issue. He spoke somewhat positively about LGBTQ relationships as far back as 2015 during the Synod on the Family, but just a few years later, clarified in 2018 he did not support same-gender church blessings. Now, he has not only reversed that position, but has taken further positive steps.
Cardinal Marx’s remarks in Stern are a significant step forward for the church. They are firm proof that even in the highest ranks of church leadership, some prelates recognize that the good in same-gender relationships must be valued, that condemnatory teachings on homosexuality must be reformed, and that the real sin here is discrimination. Luxembourg’s Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich issued a similar call in February. But with Marx, what is especially notable here is that he not only stated a position, but he actually blessed an LGBTQ couple. It seems the cardinal, like many of the faithful, has chosen the path of conscience over unjust church traditions and practices.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, April 2, 2022