Cardinal Schönborn on same-sex blessings

The divergence of views in the Catholic Church on blessing same-sex unions continues to widen. The Archdiocese of Vienna reports that Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and co-author of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, would not deny a blessing to same-sex couples.

According to Cardinal Schönborn, the question of whether one can bless same-sex partners belongs in the same category as whether this is possible for those remarried or in partnerships without a wedding license: “If the request for the blessing isn’t a ‘show,’ i.e. only a sort of crowning from an external ritual, if the request for the blessing is honest, is truly the request for the blessing of God upon a life path which two people in whatever sort of situation are attempting to trod, then one will not deny them this blessing.”

As a priest or bishop he would say to them, “You have not reached the highest ideal. But it is important that you live your path on the basis of human virtues, without which there is no successful partnership. And this deserves a blessing.”

Whether a church blessing is the right way of expressing this? “We must think hard about that,” he said.

Meanwhile, Old Testament professor Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger of the University of Vienna has recently stated that there is no basis for the blessing of homosexual partnerships in the Bible.




  1. One can recall there have been many centuries over which the Roman church honored matrimony as a sacrament and ideal, but at a practical level treated marriage more as a concession to human weakness that was almost inevitably tainted with near occasion of objective mortal sin.

    One of the threads in the tapestry here is the weird way sexual sins are categorized in Roman moral theologies as compared to the way most other sins are considered and defined; the reductivism and reification of elements of sexual sins is extraordinarily strange in that light. It doesn’t mean that God’s purposes cannot be found in such strangeness, but it does mean that perhaps God’s purposes are not necessarily as well served as they might otherwise be.

  2. Friar Schönborn – who many many years ago was my teacher – is decidedly and deeply traditional in his approach to life and church. Yet he is first and foremost a pastor who loves the people. The bishop of Copenhagen – also quite conservative – once said to me, when I asked for advice about blessing a homosexual couple, “They are our daughters, and we do not turn our backs on our own”. I truly believe that this is the best basic stance and starting point for pastoral-theological consideration.

    Friar Robert Showers OFM Conv.

  3. I hope this comment is not too late but alas the subject is not stale.


    As I recall, the priest came to the house and blessed all who dwelled within. Could we not revive and perhaps elaborate on this tradition? A blessing on the persons who formed the household recognizing the love and commitment involved? An encouragement that this house church always be a source of life and grace, reaching out in Christian service?

    Just an idea but surely an approach which honors the persons involved without challenging traditional order.

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