Blessing of homosexual couples polarises German clergy


Central Europe


Helmut Dieser, Bishop of Aachen. image AFP, Patrik Stollarz

The blessing of homosexual couples, planned for May 10th, is causing opposing reactions among German clergy, writes the German newspaper Die Tagespost

In the debate about an impending split within the Catholic Church over the blessing of homosexual couples, Jesuit priest Bernd Hagenkord urged “verbal disarmament”. “Nerves are on edge, the tone is getting harsher and instead of debate, inflexibilities are clashing,” Hagenkord told the church newspaper of the Austrian diocese of Linz.

“We are putting off people massively by the internal church wrangling”, says Hagenkord, who is the spiritual director of the Synodal Way. The Synodal Way is a series of conferences of the German Catholic Church to discuss a range of theological en organizational questions. Hagenkord stressed that the majority of delegates of the Synodal Way are interested in “constructively shaping the structure and content of church life for the future. But there are also the extremists who are quick to speak of division.” Such statements come mainly from outside Germany, but are repeated in this country by interested parties, Hagenkord says.


Outside Germany, the recently on child abuse charges acquitted Australian Cardinal George Pell describes the situation of the Church in Germany as “dangerous” and accuses the German bishops of serious violations of the teachings of the Bible and the Church. There is “a certain percentage in the German Church that seems to be going in the wrong direction”, Pell says in an interview with broadcaster EWTN.


Bishop Helmut Dieser of Aachen, contrarily, believes that pastors and other pastoral workers must decide on the matter themselves. “When it comes to requests to bless same-sex couples, pastors are bound by their conscience,” Dieser told the Catholic News Agency. As a bishop, he himself could not give an order to bless same-sex couples. At the same time, the bishop called for a moderate debate. “I ask all pastoral staff not to put each other under pressure on this issue and not to politicise or polemicise the matter.”

In the diocese of Aachen, the Diocesan Council of Catholics called on Bishop Dieser to officially reject the ban by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to “avert harm from the people and stop the self-damage of the Church’s teaching authority”. The latter had already spoken out in favour of opening up Catholic sexual teaching.



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