Synodal Way Allows Gay Blessings, Women Preachers

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 10, 2023   

Priests who bless same-sex unions will not face disciplinary sanctions

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FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Catholic Church in Germany has voted to permit the blessing of same-sex couples and women preachers to deliver the homily during Holy Mass. 

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Diocese of Cologne offers "blessing service for lovers"

Official blessing ceremonies for homosexual couples will be allowed in German Catholic churches with immediate effect, with an evaluation to be carried out in March 2026. 

A thumping majority of over 93% of Catholic clergy and laity participating in Germany's so-called Synodal Way, including 81% of Germany's bishops, voted on Friday in favor of the radical doctrinal and liturgical innovations.

Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried — a relationship the Church has always defined as adultery — will also be allowed to have their relationship blessed by the Church.

Priests who bless homosexual unions will not face disciplinary sanctions despite the Vatican's Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith categorically ruling out in March 2021 the possibility of blessings for same-sex couples as "illicit" and "unlawful."

A refusal to bless such partnerships cannot be convincingly justified in terms of a theology of grace.

The implementation of the Synodal Way's resolutions will depend on the respective bishop of a diocese, and bishops who refuse to implement the reforms cannot be forced to do so. 

Only nine bishops voted against approving a sacramental blessing for homosexual couples, while 11 bishops abstained from the vote.


 

The resolution in the Forum IV document voted on by the Synodal Way stated that "the church in Germany should officially allow blessing celebrations for couples who cannot enter into a sacramental marriage — same-sex couples or those who have been remarried and divorced."

The liturgy of blessing is based on the conviction "that there is moral good in the common life of couples who live together in commitment and responsibility for each other," the text of the resolution explained. "Where people love each other, God's love is present."

Catholics from an African culture are strongly against same-sex partnerships.

"A refusal to bless such partnerships cannot be convincingly justified in terms of a theology of grace," the Forum IV document emphasized. "This not only burdens the proclamation of God's philanthropy and the double commandment to love one's neighbor and God, but also poses serious questions about the credibility of liturgical action." 

Protests by the Faithful

Faithful Catholics belonging to Maria 1.0 and German Catholics of African descent protested against the theological novelties. 

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Franciscan superior general Sr. Katharina Ganz

"Catholics from an African culture are strongly against same-sex partnerships," objected Dr. Emeka Ani, a representative of the Federal Pastoral Council of Catholics of other mother tongues. 

"The topic should be dealt with at the level of the global synod, where I see no majority for it," Ani, a psychotherapist of Nigerian origin, insisted.  

But Essen's bishop, Franz-Josef Overbeck, responded: "I consider us as a universal church to be so interculturally diverse that we have to say at this point that we have to answer it [this question] differently in our country than elsewhere."

Maria 1.0 members protested outside the synodal assembly's hall with banners stating: "Macht nicht den Luther" (Don't do a Luther) and "Sin is no love."

The faithful Catholics also slammed the Synodal Way for beginning its sessions with what they described as a "Satanic performance desecrating the Frankfurt cathedral." 

"Faithful German Catholics are absolutely powerless against this abuse — this is a cry for help to Catholics all over the world! Please, help us to make this STOP! This is what #spiritualwarfare and #liturgicalabuse look like!" Maria 1.0 pleaded.

The Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex.

The dance, light and sound installation held on Thursday evening in the packed cathedral was intended by the synodal organizers to highlight clerical sex abuse in the German church. 

The Maria 1.0 group also criticized the bishops for allowing an "Alleluia" to be sung at the Mass of the Synodal Way during Lent. "How appropriate: you do what you want!" the group tweeted. The "Alleluia" is not sung or spoken during Lent. 

Rogues' Defense

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Extraordinary minister blesses a same-sex couple in Germany

In an interview with katholisch.de, the German bishops' media portal, Franciscan Superior General Sr. Katharina Ganz applauded the decision to permit women to preach during the Eucharist. 

"The bishops should stand up for being a controversial church, including at the level of the world church," Ganz insisted. 

Ganz lamented that the Synodal Way had not gone far enough in passing a resolution that would permit laypeople to hear confessions. 

"Lay confession already existed in the Middle Ages. So we could have returned to something that already existed in church history," the nun argued. 

"Lay confession would also be important because we need abuse-sensitive liturgies and sacraments" for "victims of sexual violence who would like to make a confession … but who make a mistake in speaking to a consecrated cleric, a man." 

 Why do we always need the priest and cannot celebrate our Eucharist ourselves? 

"This teaching is increasingly being questioned by the younger sisters. 'Why do we always need the priest and cannot celebrate our Eucharist ourselves or involve ourselves even more sacramentally?' they ask me," Ganz said. 

During the debate, theologian Aux. Bp. Herwig Gössl of Bamberg said he had changed his mind on welcoming laypeople into the pulpit: "I learned on the Synodal Way and I am grateful. I see the need to open up the homily to non-ordained people."

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Maria 1.0 protesting outside the synodal hall

The text "Proclamation of the Gospel by Lay People in Word and Sacrament" was accepted by the synodal assembly with 169 votes in favor, 17 against and 17 abstentions.

Church Teaching

In a responsum ad dubium (reply to a doubt) published in March 2021, the church's doctrinal dicastery declared God "does not and cannot bless sin," Church Militant reported.

Even though same-sex relationships may have positive elements "which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated," these "positive elements exist in a union not ordered to the Creator's plan" and hence cannot justify an ecclesial blessing, the document noted.

It reiterated that "the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex." The document noted in an appended commentary that the Church "does not have the power over God's designs" and is "not the arbiter of these designs and the truths they express, but their faithful interpreter and witness."  

But in May 2021, a total of 110 churches offered same-sex blessings in defiance of the Vatican decree. A year later, in May 2022, over 80 German churches offered "gay blessings."

The Vatican did not act to discipline disobedient priests and bishops.  

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