German Catholic church blesses gay couples


Central Europe


Open-air church meeting on Sunday in German Cologne for the blessing of same-sex couples. Photo EPA, Sascha Steinbach

Many Catholic parishes will bless gay couples on Monday, directly provoking the official Vatican policy of exclusive heterosexual marriage. Many churches have invited people to come to receive the church's blessing. People familiar with the church cannot remember provocations of this scale any time before.

Germany media speak about at least 100 churches that participate in the campaign. The blessings will not be given to individual couples, but collectively in one service, so they cannot be compared to an official marriage ceremony.

The motto for the action is #liebegewinnt (love wins). In many locations, people will gather in open-air services. Also, heterosexual visitors can be touched by the blessing, but the primary focus is on same-sex people.

The German bishops' conference had advised against the action. The church's leaders do not think that blessing services are a good instrument to introduce discussion in the church.

The first blessings as part of this action was given on Sunday in the Bavarian capital München, as Der Spiegel writes.

"Heaven was open", said the priest Wolfgang Rothe afterwards. Rothe's plan is to get the church "from the backyard".

Also in Cologne were blessings on Sunday afternoon, as the Westdeutsche Rundfunk reports. Priest Ulrich Hinz said that everyone has the right to receive God's blessing. "A church that believes it can channel the divine blessing in a certain direction is acting against the commandment of love", he says.

Not everybody is happy with the provocative action. In Wuppertal were protesters at the St. Laurentius church with the slogan "No blessing for sin" (Kein Segen für die Sünde), as the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes. Also on the internet, there is much debate about the blessing activities.



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