Catholic churches in Germany have decided to bless same-sex couples despite a Vatican ruling that forbids them from doing so.
The Church of St Benedict in Munich and three other churches in Würzburg offered blessings to same-sex couples on Sunday (9 May) in direct contravention of the Vatican’s widely condemned policy.
The service in Munich was co-organised by Maria 2.0, a Catholic movement aiming to raise awareness of sexism and the mishandling of sexual abuse in the church.
Renate Spannig, spokesperson with Maria 2.0, told DW that “it was not so easy” to find a church that would allow them to offer blessings to LGBT+ couples.
Maria 2.0 is urging other churches across Germany to defy the Vatican’s ban on blessings for same-sex couples by holding similar ceremonies in the coming weeks.
According to Germany’s Catholic News Agency, more than 100 services offering blessings for same-sex couples have already been organised in the first half of the month of May alone, while churches in Frankfurt, Cologne, Aachen and Berlin are expected to host ceremonies for queer couples.
Pastor Bernd Mönkebüscher of the Archdiocese of Paderborn, who was also involved in organising the movement, told Deutschlandfunk that he remained unconvinced by the Vatican’s insistence that clergy must not bless same-sex couples.
“When people ask for a blessing for their love and partnership, who am I to appear as a church and say… that is [a] sin,” he said.
The Catholic Church said God ‘cannot bless sin’
There was widespread disappointment among LGBT+ Catholics when the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) released an explanatory note in March forbidding priests from blessing same-sex unions.
In the note, Vatican officials insisted that God loves all his children, but went on to say: “He does not and cannot bless sin”.
Johan Bonny, bishop of Antwerp, told The Tablet in April that 700 mostly young people in Belgium have formally left the church since the Vatican issued its statement in March, while 2,000 have cancelled their baptismal registrations in the country’s Catholic stronghold.
Meanwhile, the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research released an 80-page study last week which found that biblical passages condemning homosexuality have been widely misinterpreted and mistranslated.
The study suggested that passages in Leviticus often cited as the most severe condemnations of homosexuality actually only forbade incest and adultery between men.