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Viennese cardinal displeased by Vatican 'no' to same-sex blessings

Cardinal Christoph Schomborn 2 at press conference on post synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia in Vatican City on April 8 2016 Credit Daniel Ibanez CNA 4 8 16 Cardinal Christoph Schonborn at Amoris Laetitia press conference at the Vatican on April 8, 2016. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn has declared he was “not happy with the explanation of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith”, since the message reported by the dicastery was “only a no”, and declared he would, under certain circumstances, bless same-sex unions.

The CDF said March 15 that the Church hasn’t the power to bless same-sex unions.

Speaking to the diocesan newspaper “Der Sonntag” in an interview published March 24, the Archbishop of Vienna compared the Church to a mother, saying, “a mother will not refuse to bless” her children, “even when her son or her daughter is going through a problem in life”.

Acknowledging that the CDF's explanatory note had clarified that there could be no blessing of homosexual unions in the Church for several reasons, including the fact that such unions are not the same as marriage, whether sacramental or natural, Cardinal Schönborn nonetheless confirmed he would “not refuse” blessing same-sex unions.

“If the request for the blessing is not a show, that is, not just a kind of culmination of an external ritual, if the request for the blessing is sincere, it is really the request for God's blessing for a life path that two people, in whatever situation, are trying to walk, then they will not be denied this blessing.”

“Even if, as a priest or bishop, I have to say: 'You have not realized the full ideal. But it is important that you live your way on the basis of human virtues, without which there is no successful partnership.' And that deserves a blessing. Whether the right form of expression for this is a liturgical blessing ceremony - that is something to think about carefully,” he added.

Several other Austrian bishops have chimed in on the matter. Bishop Hermann Glettler of Innsbruck told Australian state broadcaster ORF it was his position that one does not deny the blessing to people who expressly ask for a blessing and want to walk their path of life “with the Church”.

The Bishop of Innsbruck, like Cardinal Schönborn, said he had been "disappointed" by the responsum from Rome because he felt it restricted the scope of pastoral ministry.

Furthermore, he told Austrian TV that the Church needed a “learning process” when it came to “evaluate lived homosexuality in principle". The Church should “take human scientific findings much more seriously”, the Austrian agency “kathpress” reported him saying.

At the same time, Bishop Glettler emphasized that the essential concern of Rome's magisterial clarification was also to make clear the difference between an ecclesiastical marriage and a blessing. Here there should be no confusion. But this clarification could also have been more "stress-free", he maintained.

The CDF issued a “Responsum ad dubium” March 15 replying to the question, “does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” The doctrinal congregation answered, “Negative”, explaining its reasoning in an “explanatory note” and accompanying commentary.

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