A German bishop who will attend the Synod on marriage and family this fall has proposed that priests should be allowed to bless same-sex couples’ relationships.
Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabruck told DomRadio.de that when it comes to lesbian and gay relationships their strengths must be recognized in addition to perceived shortcomings.
He further endorsed civil unions, though careful to separate them from marriage, and said, as translated from German:
“The Church can help civil unions through discussions and assist them in a positive way. . .[W]ith prayer and a private form of blessing, you will be able to accompany them on their way.”
Bode’s support for civil unions and better pastoral accompaniment of same-gender relationships is similar to a small, but growing, number of bishops around the world. This is particularly true for German-speaking prelates, echoing positive comments last week from another synod delegate, Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.
Bishop Bode’s remark about blessing lesbian and gay relationships is, hopefully, an idea that will be carried on and championed at the Synod.
While it is not an unqualified endorsement of same-gender partners, it is a shift towards recognizing the goodness and holiness of lesbian and gay lives, rather than condemning them.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry