This is a statement of Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of the Diocese of Mainz, Germany.
Since the publication of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith yesterday, much feedback has come to me expressing disappointment and lack of understanding for the content of the declaration. I note how many believers are disappointed and hurt – and by no means only those immediately affected. I take this very seriously. It also bothers me. At the same time, I take this as mandate and incentive that in the Diocese of Mainz we develop strengthened pastoral offerings and programs for – and especially, together with – homosexual people. And I am grateful to those affected to whom it is important to remain connected to the church.
In February, in an article in our church newspaper Glaube und Leben (“Faith and Life”), I expressed my thoughts on the topic of blessing celebrations for same-sex partners. I especially wish to allude to the last paragraphs of my text, which I stand behind as much as ever:
Recently a book appeared which presents examples of liturgical blessing celebrations which are offered by pastoral ministers to same-sex partners, among others (Stefan Diefenbuch et. al, Paare. Riten. Kirche [“Partnerships. Rites. Church”], Paderborn, 2020). Colleagues in our diocesan offices collaborated on the project, and I recommended publication of the book. The book does not evaluate; it collects examples from actual practice.
How do I deal with this as bishop? Do I just not want to know about it? Indeed, the examples are for the most part contrary to church prescriptions. But it happens, and it will continue to happen. Is it the task of the bishop to look the other way? The examples are from many dioceses. Or do I intervene? But the celebrations have already taken place. As bishop can I revoke a blessing? Do I thus wish to break a lot of fragile porcelain with believing people? That makes little sense to me. The blessing celebrations arose from pastoral accompaniment of the people affected. Most of them are not formulas replicating church marriage, nor is the intention to develop a uniform liturgy. Pastoral ministers male and female have accompanied people and spoken a blessing upon the good in their lives. No, I do not call for a form of blessing that is similar to marriage. But I do call for accompaniment – instead of judging. And I call for speaking with – and not just about – those “not few” (Catechism!) who are affected, and remaining by their side.
From the website of the Diocese of Mainz, Germany. Tr. awr.