Swiss Diocese Favorable Towards Same-Sex Marriage

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by William Mahoney, Ph.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 11, 2019   

Basel diocese open to blessing such unions

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BASEL, Switzerland (ChurchMilitant.com) - The diocese of Basel, Switzerland, has expressed approval for political efforts to legalize so-called same-sex marriages in the country for the good of children being raised by homosexual partners.

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Hansruedi Huber

Hansruedi Huber, the director of communications for the diocese of Basel, recently expressed the diocese's welcome of proposed regulations that would legalize so-called same-sex marriage and distinguished between Church blessings and Church weddings: "We welcome the proposed regulations that give homosexual partnerships a stable and reliable legal coverage. It is important to us that children who grow up in same-sex partnerships receive a legal framework that serves the best interests of the child."

Huber expressed the diocese's willingness to bless such unions based on a distinction between a wedding and a blessing: "These must differ in content and form from the church wedding." He did not elaborate on the details of that difference. 

We welcome the proposed regulations that give homosexual partnerships a stable and reliable legal coverage.

Markus Burri, a deacon in the diocese and member of the Conference of Pastoral Managers (Konferenz der Leitungspersonen der Pastoralräume), said that one must stick with the guidelines of the diocese, which he does not think omits blessing homosexual couples: "Basically, I am convinced that there is nothing wrong with blessing people on their own life path. However, I do not know what the practice looks like with individual pastors."

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Bishop Felix Gmür, local ordinary of the diocese of Basel, who thinks the Church needs to accept a broader understanding of family, said in a 2015 statement that he accepted homosexual persons without reservation: "As a bishop, I feel responsible for all people ― regardless of their background, education or sexual orientation. For me that means that I — like everyone else — accept homosexual people unreservedly."

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Deacon Markus Burri (left)

Gmür spoke with Aargauer Zeitung in 2017 and made a distinction similar to Huber's:

The point of reference for partnership is, for the biblical and ecclesiastical tradition, marriage between a man and a woman. Their connection is [based on] the image of the covenant of God with his people, of Christ with his Church. Since same-sex marriage is not a marriage, and is therefore not interpreted as a covenant, one does not bless the bond, but the two same-sex people on their common path together. However, it is important to first speak to those concerned and ask them what they want.

Does a couple want accompaniment from God? This works out. Or a kind of wedding? That will not do. It must not be a pseudo-marriage, that would not be honest. In the celebration of the Church, one should avoid anything that is reminiscent of a marriage: the exchange of rings, the yes-word, the eternal promise of fidelity.

That the church seeks for this is progress.
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Bp. Felix Gmür with Hansruedi Huber

When asked if he thought current Church regulations regarding homosexual couples met the needs of the faithful and if he would proceed differently were he free, Gmür responded:

First, I am free. And second, I think it's right that marriage be protected in what it is. With other connections, the Church has trouble because they do not fit into the conventional interpretation. In essence, the Synod of Bishops in Rome this October [2018] is concerned with finding interpretations of meaning for these connections [homosexual unions] as well. That the Church seeks for this is progress.

Church Militant reached out to Huber to clarify if the diocese of Basel affirms or denies the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexual acts being intrinsically evil but received no response as of press time. 

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