Catholic meeting in Frankfurt: blessing for homosexual couples
Blessings for all couples were voted for at the Fifth Synodal Assembly. The text is a strong compromise for many reformers.
BERLIN taz | Do they, don’t they? At the fifth and last synodal assembly of German Catholics in Frankfurt am Main, it was eagerly awaited whether the bishops would oppose the Opening of the blessing celebrations would vote for same-sex couples. It is the main demand in the reform process of the Catholic Church.
Then, on Friday afternoon, there was relieved clapping in the hall. The text became adopted by the assembly with 176 votes in favor (92 percent) to 14 votes against. Twelve people abstained. The bishops also approved the text by 80 percent. All resolutions of the synodal path must be approved by the 67 German bishops with a two-thirds majority. From March 2026 there will now be official blessing celebrations for homosexual couples in the Catholic Church in Germany.
In order to achieve a positive vote on the text among the bishops, some text passages were changed in the run-up to the assembly. The “sacramental marriage” between man and woman is clearly separated in the adopted text from the blessing ceremony for all couples. Young synods also called for “marriage for all” and already see the text as a great compromise.
In the debate on the basic text, many of the delegates also commented on their personal situation in the Catholic Church. The religion teacher Mirjam Gräve, for example, married her wife Sabine Hengmith in the summer. Both also worked in the ARD documentary on the “Out in Church” with. They decided against a church blessing for their wedding because they “did not want to be supplicants” who could be rejected by priests: “It was our deep conviction: as married couples, we give ourselves the blessing. Our marriage is a blessing and wanted by God.” With clear words, she therefore appealed to the assembly of the Synodal Path: “Get blessing celebrations out of the gray area. Giving blessings is the church’s very own mission.” Because blessing celebrations for same-sex couples are already taking place in the Catholic Church. So far they just don’t have a liturgical framework.
Compromise so it doesn’t fail
In contrast to previous discussions about texts, more conservative bishops also spoke up in the discussion about the blessing for all. Bavarian bishops in particular, such as Rudolf Voderholder, bishop in the diocese of Regensburg, were critical. He fears that after this step, the desire for the right to sacramental marriage for queer couples could arise.
Bishop Herwig Gössl of the Archdiocese of Bamberg put it in a similar way. Unlike the previous speaker, however, he said that he wanted to clear the way for the text with one abstention, as this would put an end to the blessing celebrations in the gray area. A failure of the texts, as many speakers at the meeting put it, must be prevented at all costs.
Before were the texts at the Synodal Assembly on opening up compulsory celibacy for priests and on the “preaching of the gospel by lay people in word and sacrament” were also passed with a majority of the assembly. However, some synods criticized that the changes made by the bishops had weakened the texts significantly and contained few concrete demands.
At a press conference on Friday, Mainz Bishop Peter Kohlgraf defended this weakening. “It was really about saving texts as much as possible – despite all the difficulties, if it ended up being a softened compromise text,” said Kohlgraf. “The question is: What is the alternative? In the case of some texts, the alternative would probably have been that they would not get through at all.” Other synods saw the statements that the bishops would let the texts fail if their changes were rejected as blackmail. Bishop Kohlgraf did not see it that way.
The Synodal Assembly is the central body of the synodal path reform process, which began at the end of 2019 and is now to be brought to a conclusion in Frankfurt am Main. (with dpa)