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German bishops snub Vatican ban, vow to continue blessing gay couples

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ROME — The president of the German Bishops’ Conference said on Friday he would continue to bless same-sex couples and allow his priests to do the same.

Bishop Georg Bätzing’s public rejection of the Vatican’s ban on such blessings was all the more remarkable as it was released at a press conference in Rome shortly after a meeting between Pope Francis and the bishops. Germans.

“The Church must change,” Bätzing said. “We cannot continue as before, it is a question of transmitting the message of the Gospel here and now, and of not always looking to the past, even if it means running the risk of a bruised Church”.

The bishop went on to insist that the German Catholic Church does not pursue a path of schism from Rome, despite its profound differences with official Church teaching.

“That has never been an option for any of the German bishops or any of the Catholic laity. Never,” he asserted. “We are and will remain Catholic but we want to be Catholic in a different way and we feel that responsibility.”

According to Bätzing, talk of schism comes “from outside to frighten and intimidate”.

This is not the first time that Bishop Bätzing and other German bishops have expressed their disagreement and intention to disobey the Vatican’s ban on blessing same-sex unions.

Last March, Bätzing said the Catholic Church needed to change its teaching on sexual morality, insisting that gay sex does not harm a person’s relationship with God.

Same-sex relationships are acceptable “as long as they are conducted with loyalty and responsibility”, he told the German magazine. Bunte.

No one follows the Church’s teaching on sexuality anymore, he said, so “we have to partially change the catechism. Sexuality is a gift from God. It’s not a sin.”

In March 2021, the Vatican Doctrinal Office (CDF) issued a statement declaring that the Church does not have the authority to bless same-sex unions because God Himself “does not and cannot bless sin” .

Blessings require “the good intention of those who participate” and “that which is blessed [must] to be objectively and positively ordained to receive and express grace, according to the purposes of God inscribed in creation”, says the text.

“For this reason, it is not lawful to bestow a blessing upon relationships or partnerships, even stable ones, which involve sexual activity outside of marriage,” it reads, “as is the case with unions between persons of the same sex”.

Following this decree, Bätzing said that people in same-sex relationships want the blessing of the Church and that the Church must “respond to this desire”.

“We can no longer answer these questions simply with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It’s not possible,” he said.

“I believe we need to value homosexuality and relationships outside of marriage differently,” Bätzing said. “We can no longer proceed solely from natural law, but must think much more in terms of care and personal responsibility for each other.”

“I understand the negative opinion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it reflects the state of Church teaching,” he said. “But that doesn’t help, because there has long been a pastoral development that goes beyond that.”

“And that means change is coming,” he said.



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