“It is my personal opinion that the Church can bless same-sex partnerships”, a retired German bishop has said.

Driving the news

Emeritus auxiliary bishop of Münster, Dieter Geerlings, was speaking Thursday to some fifty people gathered at a church hall in the German city for a discussion on Church blessings to gay couples, as kirche-und-leben.de reports.

Geerlings stressed that he was speaking in a personal capacity, and that his personal conviction on same-sex relationships “is not congruent with the idea of the official Church”.

But the bishop, 72, said the Church should overturn its ban on blessing gay couples when these couples ask for it and when they live in responsibility, love and faith.

The big picture

“People who ask for blessing want to know what the Church can bestow”, observed Geerlings, adding that people ask for blessings as a way to invite God into their relationships and to ensure these relationships succeed.

The bishop stressed a blessing doesn’t amount to a “life assessment”.

He gave the example of churchmen blessing cars, in which case they don’t ask how many points they have on their licence.


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Go deeper

Though Geerlings spoke very positively about homosexual relationships, he was careful to point out that wouldn’t speak of homosexual marriage.

Marriage is “defined by sacramental doctrine”, Geerlings observed, preferring instead to speak of same-sex “registered partnerships”, which he added for all intents and purposes “means the same thing”.

“I don’t understand the agitation in the Church about gays and lesbians”, the retired bishop admitted.

He added that the insights from medical and social science must lead the Church to take homosexuality out of the “corner of pathology”.

“If the Magisterium only teaches and does not learn anymore, then something is wrong”, Geerlings said.

Moreover, the Church must draw on its own theological resources to undertake a reassessment of same-sex attraction, he added.

The bishop recalled that since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s the Church teaches that “sexuality is about more than just procreation and that is has to do with love”.

What’s next

Geerlings revealed in the event in Münster that he has submitted a paper on the Church’s sexual morality to the working group on the topic convened as part of the German Church’s “synodal path”.

This is the process in which the German Church, with the help of laypeople and outside experts, is reexamining Church teaching on sexual morality, priestly celibacy and Church power in light of the clerical sex abuse crisis.

Next on Novena:

Pope supports German push to revise celibacy, sexual morality and clerical power… with a catch


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.