CV NEWS FEED // A German synod of bishops and lay Catholic leaders voted Friday to approve clerics blessing “same-sex partnerships,” rejecting a Vatican decree forbidding the practice, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The German church leaders “voted 168 to 28, with five abstentions, to adopt a draft statement on sexuality that includes a resolution saying that ‘same-sex partnerships who want to take the risk of an unbreakable common life…should be able to see themselves placed under the blessing of God,’” reported Francis X. Rocca for WSJ:
The Rev. Burkhard Hose, who has campaigned against the Vatican ban, said the decision was “a milestone in the journey toward a church without discrimination, a church full of respect for the diversity of love and partnerships.”
Hose added that it is now impossible “for the bishops to ignore this voting of the majority without losing their authority.”
“Apparently the members of the Synodal Path see the church as a democracy where teachings and truth change with a majority vote,” countered Annette Florczak of the conserative group Maria 1.0. “It is beyond presumptuous and beyond depressing.”
Friday’s statement will still need final approval by the leaders of the synod in 2022, and could theoretically be revised before then.
In a movement known as the “Synodal Path” or “Synodal Way,” progressive German Catholic leaders have been pushing for radical changes in the Church since 2018, taking a rash of sexual abuse scandals as their launching pad to introduce controversial proposals ranging from the elimination of clerical celibacy to the ordination of women as priests.
Orthodox Catholics have criticized the Synodal Path as a scheme to undermine the core mission and teachings of the Catholic Church. Earlier this week, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg said that some bishops are using the abuse crisis to reshape the Church along Protestant lines.
“Conservatives in Germany and elsewhere have warned that innovations in those areas could lead to a schism, or a permanent split in the church,” Rocca wrote:
Pope Francis has encouraged meetings of bishops and laity in Germany and other countries to discuss such once-taboo topics, but he and Vatican officials have admonished the German synod not to stray from the rest of the Catholic world.
Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the German bishops conference, complained Monday that the Vatican’s ban on blessings for same-sex relationships had caused “indignation and head-shaking among many people….”
Friday’s statement included not only the approval of blessings for homosexual couples, but also advocacy for “more tolerance for contraception and masturbation,” Rocca reported. The statement amounts to “an appeal to the pope, acknowledging that many of its proposals ‘essentially fall within the teaching competence of the Bishop of Rome and can therefore not be undertaken by the Church in Germany.’”
As CatholicVote has reported, clerics aligned with the LGBT political movement have pressured the Vatican to make concessions since the publication of a papally approved statement reaffirming Catholic teachings on sexuality and marriage in January.
Father James Martin, SJ, shared numerous complaints on social media, including a post in March in which dissident priests defiantly declared they rejected the Vatican’s prohibition of same-sex blessings.
“We will bless same-gender couples,” the post stated. It represents a total rejection of the Vatican, whose top teaching office recently produced a document forbidding the blessing of same-sex unions by Catholic clergy.
Faithful Catholics were appalled by Rev. Martin’s act of defiance against Pope Francis and the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“This is not expressing opinion,” Catholic commenter Matthew Remedios replied on Martin’s Instagram post. “This is open dissent against the Magisterium. I think you need to have more trust in the Holy Spirit’s inspiration in the Church.”
“During the debate preceding Friday’s vote,” Rocca reported, “several lay members of the assembly said that blessings for gay couples didn’t go far enough and that partners in such relationships should be eligible for the sacrament of marriage.”