On 15th March, in the Vatican decree published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Pope Francis gave a pronouncement against blessing same-sex marriages, calling them "illicit" and "not ordered to the Creator's plan". The pronouncement declared that God cannot "bless sin", branding same-sex unions as wrong, thus upholding the orthodox Catholic values that do not approve of sex outside of a married relationship between a man and a women.
How can the Vatican refuse to bless gay marriages because they “are sin”, yet happily make a profit from investing millions in “Rocketman” - a film which celebrates my finding happiness from my marriage to David?? #hypocrisy@VaticanNews @Pontifex pic.twitter.com/sURtrWB6Nd
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) March 15, 2021
Pope Francis hasspoken often about the LGBTQIA+ community since he became pope.. His welcoming gestures include inviting LGBTQIA+ advocates to the Vatican, advocating for creating space for the LGBTQIA+ community in the churches, suggesting the development of civil laws for same-sex unions, etc. However, on the 15th of March, quite unsurprisingly, the hypocrisy of his advocacy became clear.
On the other hand, German Catholic priests have risen to this occasion and marked their protest by publicly blessing same-sex couples after two months of the pronouncement. On May 16th, under the motto "Liebe Gewinnt" or "Love Wins", over a hundred Catholic progressive churches from all over Germany coordinated to offering blessings to couples, especially same-sex couples. They also broadcast about 20 of these ceremonies.
Burkhard Hose, a chaplain at Würzburg University, who launched the campaign in March, stated, "We will continue to accompany people who engage in a binding union and bless their relationship." German priests have been blessing same-sex unions for quite some time now, but #liebegewinnt was created to catch attention. Pastor Bernd Mönkebüscher from the Archdiocese of Paderborn, one of the initiative organizers, mentioned, "When people ask for a blessing for their love and partnership, who am I to appear as a church and say... that is [a] sin".
The Vatican did not comment on this rebellious act of the German parishes; however, Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley and Vatican official Cardinal Peter Turkson have defended the Vatican's position. National Bishops' Conference president Georg Bätzing of Limburg has called the #liebegewinnt initiative "not suitable as instruments for church political manifestations or protest actions" even though he has spoken in favour of blessing same-sex unions.
On the other hand, the LGBTQIA+ community and the rest of the world have been celebrating and showing solidarity with #liebegewinnt. Rev. Jan Korditschke, a Jesuit at the St. Canisius congregation in Berlin, led the blessing ceremonies of queer couples stating, "the homophobia of my church makes me angry and I am ashamed of it." The Central Committee of German Catholics or ZdK's spokesperson Birgit Mock said, "Things cannot continue the way they did — this is what the crimes and cover-ups of sexual abuse showed us."
A 65-year-old social worker from Lüdinghausen Monika Schmelter was planning to be blessed by The German Catholic Church on Monday with her partner. They were blessed behind closed doors 31 years ago by a Catholic priest in the Netherlands. Schmelter said, "Thirty years ago, we could only live out our relationship covertly and only privately and only under fear," but "Today we live in a time of incredible transformation." She said she was nearly fired when her employer found out she is lesbian. "I feel sadness that this is only happening now, in my seventh decade of life," she said. "But on the other hand, I tear up, because there is now some movement in our church."