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German Catholic bishop backs gay blessings

The Vice President of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference has called for a dialogue on blessing same-sex unions

The Vice President of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference has called for a dialogue on blessing same-sex unions. In a 10 Jan 2018 interview with the the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück noted that as same-sex marriage was now licit in Germany, the Church should rethink its traditional rejection of homosexual relationships.

“We have to ask ourselves how we are encountering those who form such relationships and are also involved in the church, how we are accompanying them pastorally and liturgically,” Bishop Bode said, adding that although “same-sex relationships are generally classified as a grave sin in the church” was it not now time to “to reflect upon the question as to how to assess in a differentiated manner a relationship between two homosexual persons.”

“Is there not so much positive and good and right so that we have to be more just?,” Bishop Bode asked.

“Shouldn’t we be fairer, given that there is much that’s positive, good and right in this?” Bishop Bode noted. “Should we not, for example, consider a blessing — something not to be confused with a wedding ceremony?”

“I think we have to discuss this matter in more detail within the Church,” he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Bishop Bode is no stranger to controversies over Catholic teaching on sexuality. In 2015 before he traveled to the Vatican to participate in the Synod on the Family he told the German Catholic news agency KNA that while he was not in favor of same-sex marriage, he believed in providing pastoral rites for same-sex couples: “prayers and a private form of a blessing, [to enable the church] to accompany them on their way.”

Bishop Bode is not the only senior German cleric to support innovations in church teaching on homosexuality. In a 28 Dec 2017 interview given to the Herder Korrespondenz, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the German Bishops’ Conference, proposed the Catholic Church move beyond its “blind rigorism” in sexual ethics. Cardinal Marx noted he found it “difficult to say from the outside whether someone is in the state of mortal sin” by virtue of being in a same-sex relationship.

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