“If this is the case, I have to wear it, because I cannot act against my spirit and against my beliefs,” said the German priest. As it happens host Carol Off. Olding is one of more than 100 German Catholic protests publicly blessing same-sex unions this week in defiance of Vatican orders, sometimes in live and rainbow-adorned ceremonies.
This is part of an initiative called Enjoy love or “Love Wins”, and it comes after the Vatican doctrinal office said in March that priests cannot bless same-sex unions instead of marriage, because God “cannot bless sin”.
While same-sex marriage has been legal in Germany since 2017, Catholic churches do not hold same-sex marriage ceremonies. But Olding says he and other like-minded priests have secretly performed symbolic blessings for same-sex couples for years.
“We won’t be doing this in a secret way anymore,” Olding said.
Oldin says the Vatican’s position does not hold water in the Christian philosophy that God is love and that all humans are created in his image.
“We can no longer say that homosexual love is a sin. And so we want to show another way to deal with this love, ”Olding said.
“That’s why we started this campaign – to show these couples that they are welcome, that their love has dignity, that their love represents the love of God. And so there’s every right for them to get a blessing in the church. ”
The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Limburg bishop Georg Baetzing, head of the German Bishops’ Conference, condemned the initiative, saying the blessings “are not suitable as an instrument of political demonstrations or political actions of the Church”.
Blessings are held in churches across the country this week and are open to couples of all orientations.
“Same-sex couples… told us they felt welcome, sometimes for the first time in churches,” Olding said.
“So it was the kind of way to give them back a home within this Catholic Church. And it made me very sad that we suggested [to] them that they have not been welcome in recent decades. “
Alexander Langwald is legally married to his partner, but the union was never blessed in his own faith until he and his partner attended a Enjoy love event on Monday.
“It is a matter of equality, that we all belong to God’s creation, whatever relationship we live in”, Langwald a dit au Washington Post.
The March Ban on Blessings, approved by Pope Francis, sparked dissent within the Church and surprised many because he was more conciliatory to homosexuals than perhaps any other pontiff.
The decline was particularly strong in Germany. The Catholic Church there, facing dwindling numbers, has been at the forefront of the opening discussion on hot issues such as the Church’s teaching on homosexuality in the context of a formal process of debate and reform.
In March, more than 2,000 priests, theologians and other members of the Catholic Church in Germany and Austria signed a petition calling for the blessing of same-sex couples.
“I can’t understand why at this point people come to say that this kind of love is a sin,” Olding said. ” I do not understand. “
Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Reuters and The Associated Press. Interview with Christian Olding produced by Ryan Chatterjee.