The synodal assembly for the reform of the Catholic Church decided on Friday in Frankfurt/Main to officially celebrate blessings for homosexual couples. 176 of 202 assembly members voted in favour, 14 against. Twelve abstained. The necessary two-thirds majority of the bishops was also achieved. The celebrations will not be introduced until March 2026. The three years until then should be used to create forms and the liturgical form of the ceremony with the participation of the bishops.
The approval of blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples was a main requirement for the Synodal Path reform process, which has been ongoing since 2019, and was considered a touchstone for the Catholic Church’s ability to change in Germany.
The blessing celebrations are already practiced in many communities today, but they take place in a gray area in terms of canon law. It was precisely this gray area that many of the synod members criticized. It was time to get blessing celebrations out of living rooms and secret meetings in a church, it was said several times. In future, the priests who give the blessing should no longer have to fear sanctions. Divorced people who have remarried should also be able to be blessed.
Against the line of the Vatican
The Vatican clarified in 2021 that it was "not permissible" to bless homosexual partnerships, since such unions "could not be recognized as being objectively directed towards God's revealed plans".
Among those who announced a rejection of the application in Frankfurt, reference was made to the very different positions within the universal church on homosexuality. In Africa, the Catholics are strictly against it, such as the delegate Emeka Ani. The Bishop of Eichstätt, Gregor Maria Hanke, warned of a conflict within the Church on this issue, as the Anglican Church is currently experiencing. According to their own words, Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau and Bishop of Regensburg Rudolf Voderholzer were among the bishops who voted against the blessing celebrations.
Good experiences in Belgium
The theologian Mirjam Gräve, who is married to a woman, emphasized in the debate in Frankfurt: "Giving blessings is the very own mission of the church". Theology professor Julia Knop also emphasized: "If the liturgy is used to humiliate people by refusing blessings, that contradicts the will of God."
The Antwerp bishop Johan Bonny reported in the synodal assembly about the introduction of blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples in Belgium, which has already taken place. This was relatively silent, he reported. They have agreed informally with the Vatican and Pope Francis. The Pope just said to him: "It's your decision." It was important to him that all bishops stood behind it.