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Campaigners respond to Vatican ban on blessings for same-sex couples


LGBT Catholic groups have expressed their sadness and disappointment at yesterday's announcement by the CDF banning blessings for gay couples.

The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC), a network of more than 40 organizations supporting LGBTIQ Catholics around the world, said: "This document is indeed a reactionary cry in response to the fresh air that is filling the Church from those parishes and lay communities around the world where blessings for same-gender couples are already a factual reality. The Vatican document released today, called 'Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex,' uses dubious theological arguments to reject the claims of a living Church that wants to reform outdated Catholic teachings on sexuality."

Michael Brinkschroeder, a Catholic theologian and member of the German GNRC member group said: "Many German bishops have expressed their support of blessing ceremonies in the past and it is a relevant issue of the conversation of the Synodal Path. The Chair of the German Bishops' Conference has received the argumentation as a contribution to the ongoing conversation, but also said that it requires major and deeper theological arguments."

The spontaneous discussions that have arisen in Germany and elsewhere about blessing ceremonies are for him a sign that the people of God are more empowered than in the past and are asking for real theological argumentation that is not based on old prejudices and biased authorities. "We can't consider an argument about sexual and gender diversity that comes from the Catholic Catechism as theologically justified simply because it's described there,especially since there are many studies that have already demonstrated its lack of biblical and scholarly support," said Brinkschroeder.

Thomas Lofaro, Chairperson of LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council said in a statement:

"It's very disappointing, but the church has again issued a very negative statement regarding blessings for same-gender couples. The conferring of a blessing is the smallest acknowledgement that the Church can give to our identity and to the holiness of same-sex relationships. It appears that even this is to be withheld from us.

The Church goes on to state that same sex relationships are a "choice". I suppose they are - as much as a heterosexual relationship with one person and not another is a "choice". However, there is no admission that orientation and gender identity are not choices, and that the need for love and human contact are part of our biology.

We are yet again confronted with real proof of the Church's fallibility and sinfulness. I encourage you not to give up on the message of Jesus to us all, that God is love - even though his Church gives the impression that it is not. I encourage you to pray regularly for the Mother Church, that it may be a better symbol of God's love in the world.

And remember to pray for our community, that none of us may be as insensitive and ignorant of the plight and suffering of others around us." In Christ.

The head of the German Catholic Bishops' Conference has expressed his disappointment with the Vatican's recent statement banning the blessing of same-gender unions, suggesting the question is not settled.

Katholisch.de report that Bishop Georg Batzing of Limburg, has repeatedly stated his support for blessing same-gender couples. Batzing said he was "not happy" with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's intervention in the debate over such blessings. The report continues:

"'This gives the impression that the theological debate, which is currently being debated in various parts of the universal Church, including here in Germany, is to be ended as quickly as possible," said the Bishop of the KNA. But that is not possible at all. 'Because the discussion is intense and with good arguments in many places, and the theological inquiries about pastoral practice today cannot simply be put out of the way with one word of power,' said Batzing."

Batzing also released a statement on the website of the German Bishops' Conference, saying (via Google Translate):

"In Germany and in other parts of the universal Church there have been discussions for a long time as to how this teaching and doctrinal development can generally be advanced with sound arguments - on the basis of fundamental truths of faith and morality, ongoing theological reflection and also in openness to newer ones results of the human sciences and the living situations of people today. There are no easy answers to questions like these.

"The Synodal Path, which the German Bishops' Conference has initiated with the Central Committee of German Catholics, therefore endeavours to discuss the topic of successful relationships in a comprehensive way that also takes into account the necessity and the limits of church teaching development. The viewpoints put forward by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today must and will of course find their way into these discussions."

Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, a supporter of blessings for same-gender couples, commented: "We will continue to accompany all people in pastoral care if they ask for it, regardless of the life situation."

LINKS

New Ways Ministry - www.newwaysministry.org/

LGBT+ Catholics Westminster - www.lgbtcatholicswestminster.org

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