The bishop of Essen, Franz-Josef Overbeck, has called on the Catholic Church to broaden its definition of family.
“A family is where people live with children,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Catholic News Agency (KNA). Classically, family in the Catholic sense meant “father, mother, child and marriage”, the bishop said. But it was difficult to stick to just one ideal form of family, he added. No model guaranteed stability and security.
The bishop suggested regarding the well-being of children as the starting point when talking about family. “From this point of view, other constellations can also be described,” he said. Even if most people lived family life as a relationship between father, mother and children, this did not mean that the family could only succeed in this way. Today, responsibility was assumed in many family forms – for children as well as for the partner.
Overbeck also spoke about homosexual couples who, according to Catholic teaching, live in sin. Asked whether they could nevertheless be good parents, he said: “Why shouldn’t they be?” Instead of moralising, what mattered was to “jointly develop perspectives for good pastoral care of all family models with all the people living in them”.
In the Synodal Path reform consultations of the Catholic Church in Germany the bishop of Essen is one of the leaders of the forum on the issue of power and the separation of powers. He is considered one of the spokesmen of the reform-oriented majority among the German bishops. His positions in the Bishops’ Conference include that of chairman of the Commission for Doctrine and Faith and Catholic bishop for the German Armed Forces.
*Originally reported by KNA Germany.