Pray Tell reports, without editorial comment, on occurrences in parts of the universal church which will probably be of interest to all readers, not least if such occurrences also take places in other locales in the future.
KirchenZeitung, the official newspaper of the diocese of Linz, Austria, reports on parishes in which same-same couples were to be offered a blessing in the time around Valentine’s Day. “A few parishes in Upper Austria extend the invitation to worship services and celebrations of blessing for same-sex and homosexual couples,” KirchenZeitung states.
For the parish of St. Francis in Wels, the papers says that “this offer can be used by all lovers in all life situations – also lesbian and gay couples.” Few availed themselves, however. Parish assistant Imgard Lehner says that this is because “it still remains a taboo to identify oneself.” She said that there are gay and lesbian people in the worshiping community, but many of them have experienced “injury and hurt” in their contact with the Catholic Church and would now wonder whether there is a place for them. But “God is love,” she said. “Therefore there can be no limitation.”
The diocesan newspaper reports on the diocesan task force for pastoral care of homosexuals, which advocates for greater openness. “Love between two equal people is divinely desired and thus is already blessed,” the paper says of the task force’s work.
There are also reports of same-sex blessings that have been taking place for several years in the Catholic Church in Germany. Fr. Christoph Simonsen, chaplain of the university community in Aachen, states that he has blessed approximately 50 such unions in the last 15 years, including in his prior position as hospital chaplain in Mönchengladbach. Fr. Siegfried Modenbach in Dortmund (Archdiocese of Paderborn) offers liturgies for gay and lesbian people, and has blessed two homosexual couples in the last 10 years. It could be presumed that the bishop is aware of this, but there is no record of a public response by him.