Scores of German clerics publicly presided at blessing ceremonies on Monday, of “lovers” in “committed unions” — including same-sex unions explicitly forbidden by the Catholic faith – defying a recent decree the Vatican’s doctrinal office had issued with Pope Francis’s placet.
The so-called “Liebe Gewinnt” (“Love Wins”) movement comes in response to a document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which said that the Church has no power to bless “unions of persons of the same sex.”
Blessings of same-sex unions illicit
The document – technically, a response to a dubium, or question, with an “explanatory note” – was specifically approved by Pope Francis, and published on March 15. It establishes that “it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage […] as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.” The CDF adds that same sex-unions cannot be blessed “because they would constitute a certain image or analogue” of matrimony, “while in fact ‘there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family’” (citing Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia).
The Congregation insists that the impossibility of blessing same-sex unions is not “a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them.”
A slap in the face
The organisers of “Love Wins” describe the Church’s position as “a slap in the face for people around the world” who find themselves in relationships that are not approved by the Church. “It is also a slap in the face for all pastors and theologians, who promise people God’s blessing, which God alone gives, in decisive situations in their lives.” The statement laments that such blessings are normally given secretly.
Organisers chose May 10 to take a public stand against the Church by offering blessing services throughout Germany. May 10 is observed in some liturgical traditions as a memorial of Noah. In the story of Noah’s Ark, God places a rainbow in the sky as a sign of His covenant with mankind; the rainbow, with its diversity of colours, has become a prominent symbol of the LGBT movement.
The “Love Wins” website invites people “to ask for God’s blessing for all lovers in numerous church services” and to hold blessing services in various places. “Couples who take part,” it says, “should receive the blessing that God wants to give them – without any secrecy.”
Reassessing sexual morality
Numerous Catholic voices in Germany — including the powerful lay organization, the Central Committee of German Catholics (known by its German initials as ZdK) — expressed approval of the “Love Wins” initiative. In a statement to the Associated Press, the ZdK’s spokeswoman for family affairs, Birgit Mock, said, “These are celebrations of worship in which people express to God what moves them.” She insisted that the Church needs “systematic changes, also regarding a reassessment of the ecclesiastical morality of sexuality.”
However, in remarks quoted by the Vatican’s news agency, the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limberg, said the movement was “not a useful sign or a way forward,” and argued that liturgical blessings “are not a suitable tool for political-ecclesial demonstrations or acts of protests.”
In an unusual move, the Vatican News article also noted Bishop Bätzing’s criticism of the CDF’s response on the possibility of blessing same-sex unions. Echoing Mock, Bishop Bätzing described a need “for a re-evaluation of homosexual unions and a further development of the Church’s sexual morality.”