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German Catholic bishops back blessings for same-sex couples

German Catholic bishops back blessings for same-sex couples
Friday, 10 March, 2023, 21:18

The Synodal Assembly — which is focused on reforming the Church — adopted a paper in Frankfurt on Friday to allow for same-sex couples to have their relationships blessed by the German Catholic Church from 2026.

Of the 202 members of the Synodal Assembly, 176 voted in favor of the paper, while 14 against and 12 abstained.

Synodal Path reform process
Allowing blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples has been among the key demands in the Synodal Path reform process, which has been ongoing since 2019.

The progressive movement also seeks to end celibacy for priests and see women ordained as deacons.

According to the German Catholic news agency KNA, blessings would also be allowed for civilly remarried and divorcees.

KNA reported that the there was a recommendation that the German Bishops' Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics "develop and introduce appropriate liturgical celebrations in a timely manner."

The three years for the change to take effect are to be used to develop the liturgical format of the ceremony with the participation of the bishops.

The Vatican and Germany's reform movement
The church in Germany launched the reform movement amid record numbers of Germans leaving congregations and sex abuse scandals involving the church. Church membership dropped below 50% for the first time in 2021.

The Vatican has in the past made it clear that it views the Synodal Path's calls for addressing homosexuality, celibacy and women in the Church as divisive, and warned those calls could cause a fracture.

In July last year, the Holy See warned German reformers that they had no authority to instruct bishops on moral or doctrinal matters.

Bishop of Eichstätt, Gregor Maria Hanke, warned of the danger of a rift occurring within the Church on the issue, as has been seen within the Anglican Church.