Diocese Promotes Valentine’s Day Blessings with Photo of Queer Couple Kissing
A German diocese has promoted blessings for couples, including same-gender ones, even posting a photo of two men kissing with the words “Love is everything.”
The Diocese of Aachen posted on Facebook earlier this week about the blessings to mark Valentine’s Day. The text accompanying the photo read:
“This one goes out to all couples and newlyweds: We wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
“If you would like to have your love blessed: In the Diocese of Aachen there are blessing celebrations or services in all regions. (Dates and locations in the story).
“How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Tell us that in the comments.”
The post included LGBTQ-focused hashtags at the bottom, including #LoveIsLove, #OutInChurch, and #LiebegeWinnt (#LoveWins), which references a 2021 campaign by German Catholics to bless same-gender couples after the Vatican’s ban on such blessings was announced that year.
The Diocese of Aachen’s queer-inclusive promotion of blessings for couples is likely attributable to the local bishop, Helmut Dieser, who is a notable advocate for the church to evolve its understanding of LGBTQ+ issues. Late last year, he said that having a homosexual orientation is “God’s will” and church teaching needs to evolve accordingly because it “does not do justice to certain realities in the area of human sexuality.” He is also a supporter of the #OutInChurch movement of German LGBTQ+ church workers, issuing a written commitment not to fire such employees in his diocese.
On same-gender blessings specifically, Dieser challenged the Vatican’s ban on them, saying priests and other pastoral ministers should be guided by their consciences when deciding on whether to bless couples. As co-chair of the Synodal Way’s forum on sexual morality, Dieser has had great influence on the development of documents that speak positively about queer people and their relationships.
It was unthinkable even just a few years ago that a Catholic diocese would post a photo of a queer couple kissing, and welcome LGBTQ+ people to have their relationships blessed. Yet, evolution is happening. Bishop Dieser acknowledged last year that his own understanding about homosexuality grew as he was challenged by the faithful, saying in an interview:
“I have long believed that homosexuality is a limitation of male or female identity. I have often thought so. But especially with young people, I felt how unacceptable that was. That kept me busy. And I have learned that such perspectives are not theologically compelling.”
Admittedly, the Diocese of Aachen and the German church generally are outliers in how far their efforts for LGBTQ+ inclusion go. But in their progress are lessons for Catholics globally. One such lesson is that, indeed, love is everything, and, when church leaders accept invitations to encounter LGBTQ+ people and allies, often love wins.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, February 18, 2023
Das ist wunderbar! (That´s wonderful, in German). For sure, we have a lot to learn from the Church in Germany. Congrats for the newsstory!