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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Central Committee for German Catholics wants church blessings for homosexual couples

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On Sunday the so-called marriage for all enters into force in Germany. In an interview, the President of the Catholic Committee, ZdK, Thomas Sternberg, asks the church for a signal of appreciation.

The President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Thomas Sternberg, calls for a "signal of ecclesiastical appreciation for same-sex couples". The ZdK is committed to blessing love-affairs of homosexuals, he told the "Passauer Neue Presse" (Saturday). "Behind this is the wish that God may help those blessed." Sternberg referred to worship services on Valentine's Day, in which all lovers could be blessed.

Currently, there is no guideline for the blessing of relations of same-sex partners from  the German bishops, the ZdK president continues. There were, however, serious differences from the marriage between husband and wife: "According to the Catholic understanding, marriage is a sacrament and takes place before the priest in the church, not in the court."


Understanding of the ban in the Diocese of Münster

In May 2015, the Catholic Committee had already asked for such blessings with a view to the Bishop's synod on marriage and the family. "Bridges between the doctrine of the Church and marriage and the family and today's lived world of the faithful must be built by (...) a further development of liturgical forms, in particular blessings of same - sex partnerships, new partnerships of divorced persons, and important emphases in family life" said the declaration.

A Catholic priest wanted to give a "blessing for lovers" to the Mayor of Emmerich and his partner. However, Münster's bishop, Felix Genn, fears a likelihood of confusion.

Recently, a case in the Diocese of Münster had caused a stir: Bishop Felix Genn had forbidden a parish priest from giving a "blessing for lovers" to Emmerich's Mayor Peter Hinze (Socialist) and his companion in a Liturgy of the Word. For this specific case, Sternberg expressed understanding. "The blessing threatened to become a nuisance, a spectacle," he said.

On Thursday, Bishop Stephan Kronenburg emphasized that the bishopric was not about degrading a same-sex partnership. Through media reports, however, the impression arose that a homosexual wedding was celebrated in the church. The bishopric wants to emphasise that there is a difference between the sacrament of marriage and a same-sex partnership. The responsible priest, Stefan Sühling, as well as the Ecumenical Working Group on Homosexuals and Churches (HuK) regretted the decision. In the social networks there were, apart from approval for Genn, mainly critical opinions. 

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