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Cardinal Marx suggests Church should bless gay couples

Cardinal Reinhard Marx (AP)

Priests should be permitted to bless gay couples on a case-by-case basis, a leading German cardinal has said.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, said that the decision should be taken by “the pastor on the ground, and the individual under pastoral care”.

According to the Catholic News Agency, he told the Bavarian State Broadcaster: “It’s about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies in other areas as well, which we can not regulate, where we have no sets of rules.”

Some have disputed CNA’s account of his words, saying he was not specifically “endorsing” the blessings. The outlet has stood by its story, however, saying: “Our headline is intended to reflect that Cardinal Marx directly answered in the affirmative (“yes”) to the question of “bless[ing] homosexual couples in the Church.”

Last month Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, vice president of the German bishops’ conference, called for a debate on whether Catholic clergy should bless same-sex unions.

He said: “We have to ask ourselves how we’re encountering those who form such relationships and are also involved in the Church, how we’re accompanying them pastorally and liturgically.”

Last autumn, the first gay weddings were conducted in Germany, following a vote by the parliament in June to allow full same-sex marriage.

Cardinal Marx gave the interview as he marked his 10th anniversary as Archbishop of Munich and Freising.

Update: A transcript issued by the German bishops’ conference did not include the “yes” first reported by CNA. CNA retracted its original claim in light of this transcript. The key sections of the transcript can be read here.