In a move in complete defiance of the Vatican, hundreds of German Roman Catholic bishops and priests celebrated same-sex Catholic couples yesterday, May 10, by performing blessings.
The disobedience campaign, the Parish Priests Initiative, began in 2006 by nine priests and is currently led by Fr Helmut Schueller.
In March, the Vatican released a statement in which they announced their decision to not bless same-sex unions.
The statement was met with widespread outrage from many LGBTQ+ Catholic advocates across the globe.
The Parish Priests Initiative vowed to defy the Vatican’s decree and bless same-sex unions, a promise they have now fulfilled.
The ceremonies took place in approximately 80 German cities as well as in Zürich, Switzerland. Known as ‘Segnungsgottesdienste für Liebende,’ or ‘blessing services for lovers,’ organisers said that the Catholic ceremony was open to all couples, in particular, to same-sex couples.
At most services, a general blessing was given at the end of the service where same-sex Catholic couples were explicitly mentioned. In some ceremonies, individual couples received blessings after the ceremony.
A number of attendees in Cologne, Munich and Würzburg reported that “modest numbers” took part in the campaign which used the hashtag “#liebegewinnt” (“love wins”).
According to the organisers of a service at the Liebfrauenkirche in Frankfurt, “At the end of the Mass (…) Capuchin friars were available to all couples for personal blessings.”
Another service in Cologne was said to be like a “political event” with a female pastoral counsellor leading processings explaining that she had already quit her church service. In a youth church in Würzburg, an organiser spoke about the “anger and sadness” that had occurred as a result of the Vatican’s decision.
Across the world, Church members are standing against the Vatican’s ruling. In Cork, a representative of the Association of Catholic Priests, Fr Tim Hazlewood, said he would bless the union of same-sex couples despite the Vatican ruling it out this week, stating, “If Christ was with us now, he would do the caring, the loving thing.”
Former priest and LGBTQ+ activist Andrés Gioeni delivered a letter disavowing his faith to a Buenos Aires suburb bishopric in protest of the Vatican’s statement. He left the Church on the anniversary of his ordination as a priest in 2000 and two days after the declaration from the Holy See.
Former Irish President Mary McAleese heavily criticised the Vatican for the “heartache and hurt” caused by the decision to not bless same-sex unions.
Last week, Professor McAleese gave her backing to a report by over 60 Christian theologians and academics that says it disproves Christian objections to same-sex relationships.
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