Karl-Heinz Wiesemann, bishop of the diocese of Speyer in Germany, has called for the priests in his diocese to grant “blessing ceremonies” for same-sex unions, as well as for adulterous or sinful relationships outside marriage.
In a letter from November 2 to the clergy of the diocese, the bishop cited the German Synodal Way, which had voted 93% in favor of the “blessing” of same-sex couples and remarried divorced people. Wiesemann quoted the statement of Pope Francis: “Who am I to judge?” and suggested that such “blessings” be adopted by the Church within the framework of the Synod on Synodality.
Bishop Wiesemann explains: “Inasmuch as it affects the believers whose marriages are broken and who are remarried, inasmuch as it affects the people attracted to the same sex, it is urgent, above all in the context of a long history of deep wounds, to find a different pastoral attitude inspired by the Gospel.”
The bishop called for a change to the Catholic teaching on homosexuality: “That’s why I pleaded for a reevaluation of homosexuality in the teaching of the Church and for the possibility of blessings for same-sex couples. I hope that this urgent question of our time can be developed in a satisfactory manner in the course of the global Synod.”
As for people in same-sex relationships who ask for a “blessing,” Wiesemann asked pastors of his diocese “to work with them to find means which are suitable for them before they can have the experience of God’s blessing for their shared course in life.”
This approval of “blessings” for same-sex couples was announced on the diocese website, the bishop confirming that it was inspired by “his long pastoral experience” to offer “support for couples who cannot or do not want to receive the sacrament of marriage for diverse reasons.”
He adds that “those who give such blessings need not fear sanctions” and that in giving such “blessings,” “we give to believers a clear sign of the proximity of God in the community of the Church.”
Without broaching the question of the sinful character of all sexual activity outside marriage, Wiesemann stated that he “would respect” the pastors who “cannot reconcile such a blessing with their conscience and their understanding of the Faith,” but he also asked them to “send the couples who ask for a blessing” to the diocese.
The diocese indicated that “the blessing must differ from a marriage in the church, since it is not a matter of the celebration of a sacrament,” but asserted that it was intended to “reinforce, as an act of blessing, what exists in the relationship of the couple in terms of love, commitment, and mutual responsibility.” Such a practice is not compatible with Catholic doctrine.
The bishop announced that he has put in place an “office of mediation” to handle the requests for blessings outside marriage.
In 2021, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared it impossible for the Church to bless same-sex couples: “the Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex.” It also stated that God “does not and cannot bless sin.”