Today, the assembly of the Synodal Way in Germany formally and overwhelmingly approved a document that calls for the church to bless same-gender couples. 92.6% of the assembly’s members, which include both bishops and lay leaders, voted for the document, including 80.1% of participating bishops. The document, which you can read more about here, also objects forthrightly to the Vatican’s ban on such blessings, too.
Bondings 2.0 will offer further reports on the Synodal Way’s final assembly now underway, including discussions of a document on gender identity, in the coming days.
Below is a statement from Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director, on today’s historic vote about church blessings:
The Catholic Church in Germany has taken an unprecedented step towards equality for LGBTQ+ people by voting to endorse church blessings for committed same-gender couples. New Ways Ministry sends heartfelt thanks for the Synodal Way’s brave move towards greater justice and more compassionate pastoral care.
The document on blessings will encourage LGBTQ+ Catholics around the world, who have been waiting for uncountable years to have their love as couples be recognized. The document will also encourage Catholic leaders in other countries to be bolder in their advocacy for LGBTQ+ people, a trend which has been growing steadily since the papacy of Pope Francis began ten years ago.
It is significant that such blessings had been forbidden by the Vatican, and this decision may test of Pope Francis’ call for greater discussion in the church, particularly on LGBTQ+ issues. If the German document goes unchallenged, it will be a landmark moment for moving the Catholic Church closer to a full acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. It will also be a landmark in modern Catholic history for allowing local church leaders decide on the best approaches to pastoral care for people in their country.
Church history shows that changes in pastoral practice always precedes a change in church teaching. This change in practice paves the way for much needed doctrinal change on LGBTQ+ issues, and all issues of gender and sexuality.
As it concludes, the Synodal Way opens a new chapter in the discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in Catholicism. With the global Synod set to meet in Rome this October, the German decision will offer an important item for discussion on the agenda. Once the discussion begins in this wider venue, it is almost certain more and more church leaders will begin calling for greater pastoral care, justice, and equality for LGBTQ+ people.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, March 10, 2023