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‘There are no easy answers’: Head of German Catholic bishops responds to Vatican’s ‘no’ on same-sex blessings

Screenshot_2021_03_03_at_100741.png Bishop Georg Bätzing at the German bishops’ spring meeting in February 2021. Credit: Sascha Steinbach/epa pool.

A leading German Catholic bishop responded to the Vatican’s rejection of blessings for same-sex couples on Monday by saying that there were “no easy answers” to the issue.

Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, made the comment March 15 after the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) clarified that the Catholic Church does not have the power to give liturgical blessings of homosexual unions.

Bätzing said that the CDF’s response to a question about the possibility of same-sex blessings reflected “the state of Church teaching as expressed in several Roman documents,” reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

He continued: “In Germany and in other parts of the worldwide Church, there have been discussions for some time about the way in which this teaching and doctrinal development in general can be advanced with viable arguments -- on the basis of fundamental truths of faith and morals, progressive theological reflection, and also in openness to more recent results of the human sciences and the life situations of people today. There are no easy answers to questions of this kind.”

CNA Deutsch has previously reported that Bätzing expressed support for same-sex blessings, saying that “we need solutions for this.”

In his statement, the bishop addressed the impact of the CDF’s intervention on the “Synodal Path,” a multi-year event bringing together German lay people and bishops to discuss four major topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.

Bätzing said that the “Synodal Path” was seeking to address “the topic of successful relationships in a comprehensive way that also considers the necessity and the limits of ecclesial doctrinal development.”

He added: “The points of view put forward today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must and will naturally find their way into these discussions.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg welcomed the CDF document.

In a March 15 statement, he said: “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has made it clear that the Church does not have the authority to bless same-sex partnerships. Pope Francis has approved the publication of the document and the accompanying explanations.

“With the pope and the members of the Family Synod of 2015, I also underline ‘that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while “every sign of unjust discrimination” is to be carefully avoided’ (Amoris laetitia, 250).”

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