Abstentions by bishops clear the way for Church blessing of same-sex couples in Germany

In the near future, there will be blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples in the Catholic Church in Germany.

In the near future, there will be blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples in the Catholic Church in Germany. People who have divorced and then remarried in a civil partnership should also be able to have their relationship blessed in the Catholic Church. 

Following a controversial debate, the Synodal Path reform project adopted a corresponding text in Frankfurt on Friday with a majority of over 90 percent. The paper recommends developing and introducing appropriate liturgical celebrations and ceremonies.

Of the 58 bishops who voted, 38 voted in favour, 9 against and 11 abstained. Since abstentions in the Synodal Path are counted as votes not cast, the result was counted as a majority of just under 81 per cent in favour. 20 votes against would have been enough to reject the text, since according to the statutes, the bishops must approve decisions with a two-thirds majority.

Manuals for blessing ceremonies for different types of couples will now be developed. Pastors will not be forced to perform such blessings. The paper, entitled “Blessing Celebrations for Couples who Love Each Other”, emphasises that a refusal to bless the relationship of two people “who want to live their partnership in love, commitment and responsibility to each other and to God” shows a lack of compassion.

Emeka Ani, a representative of German Catholics whose first language is not German, said during the debate: “Catholics from African culture are strictly against same-sex partnerships”. He said the issue should be dealt with at the level of the World Synod, where, however, he does not see a majority in favour. 

Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen replied: “As a Universal Church, I consider us to be so interculturally diverse that at this point we have to say that this issue should be handled differently in Germany than elsewhere”.

Originally reported by KNA Germany. 

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