Following the completion of the Synodal Path reform consultations, two German dioceses will adopt different approaches to implementing the resolution on providing blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples or remarried divorcees. The Vatican has also stated its position on this point.
The Osnabrueck diocese in northwestern Germany said on Tuesday it would make changes soon and offer formal blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples and remarried divorcees. Unordained women and men would be permitted to conduct christenings in the coming months. An order would be developed soon to enable ordinary Church members to preach regularly in Church services.
“The resolutions of the last Synodal Assemblies, which were supported by an overwhelming majority of bishops and laypeople, give us the tailwind we need for concrete changes in our diocese,” said Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, who as deputy president of the German Bishops’ Conference was also a member of the presidium of the Synodal Path. The diocese, home to around 530,000 Catholics, had already been preparing some reforms for a long time, he said.
Other decisions of the reform process would also be implemented quickly, the statement said. For example, more people would take part in the next election of a bishop than in the past.
There will be no such blessing ceremonies in the archdiocese of Cologne where Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki said it was up to the Vatican to decide whether homosexual couples could be blessed. “Cardinal Woelki is aware of the deep desire of same-sex couples for a Church blessing, which the archbishop can well empathise with,” the archdiocese told the local newspaper Koelnische Rundschau on Tuesday. Woelki assumed that the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Baetzing, would seek clarification on the issue in Rome and “awaits the Holy See’s statement on the matter”.
At its final meeting which ended last Saturday, the plenary assembly of the Synodal Path decided that official Catholic blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples and remarried divorcees would be possible in future. Woelki had abstained from the vote.
Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin had commented on the question of blessing ceremonies on Monday evening. He said a local Church could not “make a decision that affects the discipline of the Universal Church”. Parolin pointed out that the Holy See had already stated its position “clearly and unequivocally” on blessing same-sex couples.
In March 2021, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had said in a written declaration that the Catholic Church had no authority to bless unions of people of the same sex. It was not allowed to give a blessing to relationships or even partnerships that involved sex outside marriage, it said.
*Originally reported by KNA Germany.