Cardinal Marx: The Individual Blessing of Homosexual Couples May Be Discussed
Today, 3 February, Cardinal Reinhard Marx — the President of the German Bishops’ Conference — suggests a further opening with regard to the idea of establishing a blessing from the German Catholic Church to be given to homosexual couples. In an interview with the Bavarian radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk BR, Cardinal Marx refers to Pope Francis’ call of accompanying people more closely in their individual lives, and Marx calls for more pastoral care for homosexuals. When asked about the question of a blessing for homosexual couples, Marx thus proposes “that we be pastorally closer to those [such as homosexuals] who are also in need of that pastoral care and who also desire it.” He continues, saying:
There we also have to give encouragement that the priests and pastoral caretakers also give words of encouragement to the people in concrete situations. I really do not see there any problems. Another question is how this would be done publicly, in a liturgical form, that is where one has to be reticent and also reflect upon that in a good way.When asked whether he could imagine such a blessing for homosexual couples, Cardinal Marx answers: “There are no general solutions; I do not consider it [such a general solution] to be right, because it is about the pastoral care for individuals.” These are cases “where we do not have a rule,” he explains. “And that does not mean that there is nothing happening.”
Cardinal Marx adds:
This I really have to leave up to the local pastor and the accompaniment of that person. One can think about this in a dialogue — and right now, there is taking place such a discussion [raised by the Vice President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode] — that is to say, about how we could deal with this matter, but I would say I would leave this strongly in the hands of the local pastor, in a very concrete situation, and not to demand rules in this matter. There are things that cannot be regulated.With these still somewhat vague words (which seem to be a characteristic of Cardinal Marx’ public speech) — and in light of a more decentralized approach — Cardinal Marx opened up to the idea of priests giving, in certain individual cases, a blessing to homosexual couples. These words come in the wake of a recent call for such a blessing as proposed by the Vice-President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode. He said in January of 2018, when discussing the idea of a blessing of homosexual couples: “We have to reflect upon the question as to how to assess in a differentiated manner a relationship between two homosexual persons.” “Is there not so much positive and good and right so that we have to be more just?”
Moreover, Cardinal Marx had recently claimed that it is hard to determine whether someone is living in the state of mortal sin. He applied this question also to homosexual couples. He also called for “a respect for a decision made in freedom” and for one’s “conscience.”
In the wake of these prominent and high-ranking encouragements with respect to homosexual couples, a German diocese now proposes even more concrete steps for the establishment of an official liturgical blessing for homosexual couples. With the explicit encouragement of the Bishop of the Diocese of Limburg, Johannes zu Eltz — a high-ranking priest, canon, and Dean of the City of Frankfurt (with a responsibility for around 150,000 souls) — has now made a public proposal to have a “theologically justified blessing” for those couples who are either homosexual, “remarried,” or who for other reasons do not feel “sufficiently worthy” for the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Zu Eltz now proposes a “liturgical celebration” that “omits the exchange of rings or the utterance of a marital vow.” Rather, one could, “with respect for a reliable partnership,” ask for God’s blessing “for a successful future of something that already exists.”