CNA Staff, May 10, 2021 / 14:35 pm America/Denver (CNA)
Priests and pastoral workers in Germany defied the Vatican Monday by conducting blessing ceremonies attended by same-sex couples.
Organizers held a day of protest on May 10 in response to the Vatican’s recent declaration that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions.
The ceremonies, known as “Segnungsgottesdienste für Liebende,” or “blessing services for lovers,” were promoted using the hashtag “#liebegewinnt” (“love wins”). Organizers said that the services were open to all couples, including — and in particular — those of the same sex.
CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that ceremonies took place in around 80 cities in Germany as well in Zürich, Switzerland’s largest city.
But it said that it was difficult to calculate the precise number of blessing services.
In the Bavarian city of Würzburg — but also in other locations such as Aachen, Berlin, Frankfurt, Mainz, and Cologne — several services were held at the same time.
Almost 130 participants gathered in the Augustinian Church, not far from Würzburg Cathedral, while almost 40 people attended a ceremony in the youth church at the same time.
Observers in Cologne, Munich, and Würzburg reported to CNA Deutsch that in many places a “modest number” took part in the campaign.
A participant reported from Cologne that a total of six couples were blessed in the chapel of the local Catholic university community and a total of 23 people were present.
In many places, a general blessing was given at the end of the service, which, however, explicitly included homosexual couples and their relationships. Sometimes individual blessings were offered after the ceremony.
According to the organizers of a service at the Liebfrauenkirche in Frankfurt, “At the end of the Mass (…) Capuchin friars were available to all couples for personal blessings.” The church, dedicated to Mary, belongs to the Diocese of Limburg, led by Bishop Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German bishops’ conference.
In the Augustinian Church in Würzburg too all couples — expressly including same-sex couples — were invited to “come and get” the individual blessing in a backroom, after the service.
The order of service varied from place to place. A participant who attended the blessing ceremony in Cologne told CNA Deutsch that the ceremony was like a “political event.” The event was led by a female pastoral counselor in liturgical robes, who explained that she had already quit her church service.
After some political statements, the Gospel was read aloud, followed by a speech. Finally, the song “Imagine” by John Lennon was played.
At the Würzburg youth church, an organizer spoke about the “anger and sadness” that had prevailed since the Vatican intervention. A temporary “wall” was set up in the sanctuary and participants were asked to write down “everything that upsets you” and place it there.
The Church should not presume to define what love is, the organizer commented: “Love is not a sin, we are all blessed, fundamentally. Let us build on that.”
At the same time, in the nearby Augustinian Church, the priest emphasized that God’s blessing belongs to “all people.”
“We can’t help but bless,” the priest continued, adding that those who blessed same-sex partnerships were following their consciences.
Würzburg student pastor Fr. Burkard Hose confirmed in his address during the blessing ceremony that in the past many people had been blessed “in secret.”
“We will continue to do this,” he said, adding: “The Church does not have the authority to withhold blessings.”
Some blessings took place before May 10. Diocesan media reported that on May 7 in the city of Geldern, North Rhine-Westphalia, two Catholic priests conducted blessings of 35 couples before an altar covered with a rainbow flag.