Homosexual couple with rainbow flag © OMP.stock (shutterstock)
As part of the "Love Wins" campaign, there are 110 officially listed blessing services across Germany. The leaders also invoke Pope Francis, who in 2013 had encouraged Catholics to open doors.
A spontaneous reaction to the Vatican's no to the blessing of homosexual couples and a "grassroots" impulse unexpectedly gave rise to a large movement, according to a statement from the initiators on Monday. The response from affected couples, but also from the congregations, is overwhelming, he said.
In their own words, the initiators of the #lovewins campaign hope that the blessings will give a visible sign of the blessing-giving power of a church "that does not turn away from people, but seeks a loving attention to those who, in faithfulness and love, give a testimony of the love that God has revealed to mankind".
According to those responsible, there is a "decades-long practice of secret blessing" in the church that they feel is unworthy of their attention. The official attitude of the church in questions of the sexual orientation is no longer portable in any society, which feels obligated to the fundamental human rights.
This also applies to the Catholic Church as one of Germany's largest employers, he said: especially in professions where the Christian image of man is particularly practiced, such as nursing or social work, an above-average number of people have had to remain silent about their sexuality for a long time. "Each one of these people is wanted by God in exactly the way they are and live. To this the Catholic Church must find answers, attitudes and rites."
Initiators refer to Pope Francis
Those responsible also refer to Pope Francis, who in 2013 encouraged Catholics to open doors and act "where the cry of life is heard". The pope had further stated, "I would rather have a church that does something wrong because it does something at all than a church that gets sick because it revolves around itself only."
The Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had said in a letter published in mid-March that the church had no authority to bless same-sex relationships. These unions do not correspond to the divine will.
The German bishops' conference criticized the blessing services in advance. Worship services have "their own theological dignity and pastoral significance" and are not suitable as an "instrument for church-political manifestations or protest actions," explained the conference chairman, Bishop Georg Batzing.
Bernd Monkebuscher, a pastor in Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia, and one of the initiators of "Love Wins," commented, "We are not protesting against something, but we are standing alongside people who still expect something from the church."