Priests in more than 100 churches around Germany have offered blessings to same-sex couples despite the Vatican banning them from doing so.
The nationwide ceremonies took place on Monday May 10 in response to the Vatican issuing a decree in March that prohibited priests from blessing same-sex couples because God “does not and cannot bless sin.”
May 10 was chosen for its association with Noah, who God recognizes in the bible with a rainbow, which has since become a symbol of the LGBTQ community, according to the New York Times.
“Couples who take part should receive the blessing that God wants to give them – without any secrecy,” Love Wins, the group of priests, said, according to the BBC.
Pope Francis voiced his support of same-sex couples in October 2020, saying he believes they should be allowed to have “civil unions”. He also told a documentary that same-sex couples “have a right to be in a family.”
However, he also approved the statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in March that stated the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin”.
At the time, the Vatican said in a statement that the ban “was not intended to be, a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals.”
Love Wins described the ban as “a slap in the face for people around the world.”
On Monday, blessings took place in churches around Germany. Churches that weren’t offering ceremonies were encouraged to fly rainbow flags and banners.
Reverend Bernd Mönkebüscher, pastor in the Church of St. Agnes in the western town of Hamm and one of the founders of the campaign, told the New York Times it was important to “send a clear signal that the church must recognize, honor and appreciate life in all of its many colors.”
Mönkebüscher, who identifies as gay, said his church holds blessings for all couples, including those from same-sex unions and those who remarried after a divorce every Valentine’s Day.
“It is an important gesture toward those people who the church for years, if not decades, has viewed as second-class citizens,” he said.
In March, more than 2,000 priests, theologians, and other members of the Catholic Church in Germany and Austria signed a petition asking the Vatican to extend blessings to same-sex couples.
According to a 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center, 70% of Catholics in Germany are in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. Germany legalized same-sex marriage in 2017, and the country has also banned “gay conversion therapy” for under-18s.