The German Synodal Path reform project wants the Catholic Church to offer blessing ceremonies for couples who cannot have a Church marriage. The demand is controversial, but a theologian has warned against drawing a sharp dividing line between such blessing ceremonies and the standard marriage rites.
The German liturgical scholar Benedikt Kranemann has called for the introduction of blessing ceremonies for same-sex or remarried couples. “After this question was debated at great length and very intensively theologically and in practical terms at a high level in the Synodal Path, we can now proceed with confidence to officially make these ceremonies a liturgy of the Church,” he said in an interview with the news site katholisch.de.
The Synodal Path of the Catholic Church in Germany had advocated such ceremonies when couples cannot or do not want to enter into a Church marriage. Soon, a joint commission consisting of the Bishops’ Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Germany’s main laypeople’s organisation, is to draw up draft proposals.
Kranemann said he opposed formulations and actions that showed couples that their partnership did not correspond to what was intended as “normal”. Such attempts at demarcation raised the question of “how serious the Church really is about its conversion and its cooperation with its same-sex brothers and sisters in faith”, he said. It was crucial to find a form of worship “that does justice to people, their life situation and their faith”.
He emphasised that there were different situations and ceremonies “when there is not a man and a woman at the front of the Church, but two women or two men”. Therefore, appropriate biblical images and formulations should be chosen for such couples in the prayer of blessing and in other prayers.
The texts, he said, must consistently address the situation of these couples. “However, I would like to warn very strongly against designing these ceremonies primarily in terms of how they differ from the wedding ceremony,” said the theologian, who teaches in Erfurt in eastern Germany.
The scholar called for dialogue in light of the criticism of the plans voiced by the Vatican and by churches in other parts of the world. “One will have to explain again and again what these ceremonies mean. We will have to win people over,” said the professor at Erfurt’s Faculty of Catholic Theology.
*Originally published by KNA Germany.