German bishop declares that Catholic priests can bless gay couples

A bishop in Germany has declared that Catholic priests may bless ceremonies for same-sex couples if they wish to and notes there are no sets of rules regarding this issue.

(REUTERS / Dylan Martinez)Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany arrives for a meeting in the Synod Hall at the Vatican. March 8, 2013.

During his 10th anniversary as the Archbishop of Munich and Freising on Feb. 3, German Bishops' Conference president Cardinal Reinhard Marx said he thinks Catholic priests can decide whether or not to bless a same-sex union. His statement was in response to a question on why the Church did not always cave in to clamors for female deacons, the removal of celibacy requirement for priests and the blessing for same-sex unions, the Catholic News Agency detailed.

For Marx, the important question was how the Catholic Church could deal with the challenges it encounters in light of the current situation. He told the Bavarian State Broadcaster that individualized pastoral care should be applied to everyone including homosexuals.

"And one must also encourage priests and pastoral workers to give people in concrete situations encouragement. I do not really see any problems there," Cardinal Marx said.

He shared that it was "about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies to other areas as well, which we can not regulate, where we have no sets of rules." 

Cardinal Marx's statement came amid the Roman Catholic dilemma on the issue after Germany unexpectedly legalized same-sex marriage last year. Catholic bishops had campaigned against the measure, but they are now faced with the challenge of adhering to the Church's doctrine while maintaining respect for LGBT parishioners, Religion News Service reported.

Last month, German Bishops Conference deputy chairman Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück said they have to acknowledge that "marriage for all" is now a reality. He suggested that they could give a blessing to gay parishioners who are active in the church and want to get married.

Auxiliary Bishop Dieter Geerlings of Münster had also previously expressed a similar thought in December. He maintained that he was against "marriage for all" but said he can bless two homosexuals who want to enter into a gay relationship.