Catholic chaplains in parishes all over Germany are planning to invite people to “blessings for lovers” on and around May 10th.
The “Love Wins” campaign was launched in Hamburg, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. The campaign website says the goal is to celebrate “the diversity of people’s different life plans and love stories” and to ask for God’s blessing.
Gay and lesbian couples are also invited, attracting public attention after the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared in mid-March that the Catholic Church has no authority to bless same-sex relationships.
KNA reported that the Vatican’s declaration was widely criticized among Catholics in Germany.
“I have blessed buildings and sugar beet harvesting machines,” said Father Burkhard Hose from Würzburg. “So why not also people who love each other?”
Hose and Father Bernd Mönkebüscher, a theologian from Hamm, have collected around 11,000 signatures against the ban on blessing same-sex couples, KNA reported.
Birgit Mock, Vice President of the Catholic German Women’s Association, said: “The current discussion could lead to a historic step: a positive appreciation for responsibly lived sexuality in the Catholic Church in Germany.”
Mock and Bishop Helmut Diese von Aachen lead one of four working groups of the Synodal Path reform project. Her group is concerned with sexual morality and the church’s approach to homosexuality is one of her themes.
He made it clear that his office does not allow him to issue a mandate to bless gay couples, but added: “When asked to bless same-sex couples, pastors are bound by their conscience.”
Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, President of the German Bishops’ Conference, criticized the blessing services. “They are not suitable as an instrument for church political manifestations or protest actions,” he said.
The Vatican is increasingly critical of the debates in Germany, but the members of the grassroots are getting louder in their calls for reforms.
Hose, a college chaplain, noted the Orthodox Church commemorated the Biblical Patriarch Noah on May 10. After the flood, God made a covenant with Noah – under the sign of a rainbow. That’s not far from the colors of the rainbow flag of the gay rights movement.
Metropolitan Hilarion of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church has praised the Vatican’s ban on blessing same-sex couples. On this point, the teachings of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches coincided, he said.