Catholic theologian Karl-Heinz Menke has categorically ruled out the church blessing of homosexual couples in an expert opinion. The church is “not a service company,” Menke stressed.
“The Church may not and cannot do the opposite of what it has declared dogmatically and canonically binding, even in individual cases,” writes the professor emeritus of dogmatics from Bonn in the expert opinion commissioned by the diocese of Limburg, which the weekly newspaper “Die Tagespost” published on Friday. “Wherever the church acts publicly, this action must correspond to its self-image,” Menke emphasizes.
“Not a service organization”
The church is “not a service company that is geared to some need,” writes the 70-year-old Menke, who is also a member of the Vatican's International Theological Commission. The need of homosexual or civilly remarried couples “for ecclesial (ab)blessing of their irregular union” is not an argument. The church must resist the spirit of the times exactly there, where it is considered plausible in the society, “which is allegedly merciful, in truth however self-contradictory”.
According to Catholic teaching, it is not a sin to have homosexual feelings; homosexual acts are, however, “not in themselves okay”. Menke stresses that the refusal of church blessings for same-sex couples is not a judgment on their ethical intentions or their affiliation with the church. “How the individual stands before God or Christ is beyond our knowledge and judgment.”
Question about church blessing
Limburg Bishop and chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Georg Batzing, has made it clear on several occasions that he can imagine a church blessing for couples who are not allowed to marry in church – including homosexual couples. At the end of December, Batzing said in an interview with the “Herder Korrespondenz” (January): “We need solutions for this that are not only effective in private, but also have a public visibility – but make it clear that no marriage is endowed.”Such blessings may also be feasible without official recognition from the Vatican, Batzing said: 'In my diocese, I have commissioned a process to discuss this ie.”
In August 2019, Baetzing – who at the time was not yet president of the bishops' conference – had said that blessing ceremonies for gay couples were not possible "at the moment". At a discussion event in Oestrich-Winkel, Batzing pointed out the problems of canon law: "If Bishop Georg says that there are blessing ceremonies for homosexuals in Limburg, then tomorrow Bishop Georg will no longer exist, because the Holy Father says that the bishop no longer has the connection to the Church."