Women Priests, Homosexuality, Not Closed Debate In Church, German Bishop Says

Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop of Limburg and President of the Synodal Way Georg Bätzing holds a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, February 5, 2022.

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A leading German Catholic bishop on Saturday contested the Vatican’s view that debates about women priests and homosexuality were closed, saying they will have to be confronted in the future.

Bishop Georg Bätzing spoke at a news conference at the end of a week of talks between Pope Francis and Vatican officials on one side, and all of Germany’s bishops on the other.

They centred on a controversial German progressive movement, known as the “Synodal Path”, that aims to give lay Catholics a say on some doctrinal matters as well as the appointment of bishops.

The movement has alarmed Catholic conservatives and moderates around the world, who fear that it could lead to massive splintering similar to what happened in Anglican and Protestant Churches after they introduced similar changes in recent decades.

“As far as the ordination of women is concerned, for example, (the Vatican’s) view is very clear, that the question is closed. But the question exists and it has to elaborated and discussed,” said Bätzing, who is bishop of Limburg and head of the German Bishops Conference.

The Catholic Church teaches that women cannot be priests because Jesus chose only men as his apostles and that while same-sex attraction is not sinful, homosexual acts are.

Some Church progressives want the Catholic catechism to be changed so that it does not condemn homosexual acts in a committed relationship and to open a process leading to women’s ordination.

“All these questions are on the table (of the German Synodal Path) and all attempts of cancel them will not have success,” Bätzing said.

“Popes have tried to say the question (of women priests) is closed but the fact is that the question exists. Many young women say ‘a church that refuses all of this cannot be my church in the long run,'” he said.

In 2021 the Vatican’s doctrinal office ruled that priests cannot bless same-sex unions.

In September, Flemish Roman Catholic bishops issued a document allowing the practice.

Asked if he would bar priests in his diocese from blessing same-sex unions Bätzing said: “I will not deny God’s blessing from those in committed relationships who are seeking it”.

In July, the Vatican tried to slam brakes on the German movement, saying it risked causing a schism in the universal Church.

Bätzing said he did not see such a risk.

“It (schism) is not an option for any bishop or lay person in Germany. We are Catholics and we will remain Catholics but we want to be Catholics in a different way,” he said.

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Vatican urges German Catholic Church to put brakes on reform

FILE – The chairman of the Catholic German Bishops Conference, Cardinal Georg Baetzing, speaks to the media in Bonn, Germany, Feb. 25, 2021. Top Vatican cardinals called for pause in the on the German Catholic Church’s controversial reform process during an unusual Vatican summit Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, fearing proposals concerning gays, women and sexual morals will split the church. Bishop Georg Baetzing, who heads the German bishops conference, explained the work undertaken so far, stressing that it was based on listening to the “people of God and the pain over abuses committed by clergy”.

By NICOLE WINFIELD

Top Vatican cardinals tried to put the brakes on the German Catholic Church’s controversial reform process Friday, fearing proposals concerning gays, women and sexual morals will split the church and insisting they would be better debated later.

The Vatican and the German bishops conference issued a joint statement after a week of meetings that culminated with an unusual summit between the 62 German bishops and top Vatican officials, including the No. 2 secretary of state, the head of the bishops’ office and the head of the doctrine office.

The pope, who met separately with the German bishops on his own on Thursday, was originally supposed to attend Friday’s summit but did not, leaving it to his cardinals to toe the Vatican line.

Germany’s church launched a reform process with the country’s influential lay group to respond to the clergy sexual abuse scandals, after a report in 2018 found at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014. The report found that the crimes were systematically covered up by church leaders and that there were structural problems in the way power was exercised that “favored sexual abuse of minors or made preventing it more difficult.”

Preliminary assemblies have already approved calls to allow blessings for same-sex couples, married priests and the ordination of women as deacons. One has also called for church labor law to be revised so that gay employees don’t face the risk of being fired.

The German “Synodal Path” has sparked fierce resistance inside Germany and beyond, primarily from conservatives opposed to opening any debate on such hot-button issues and warning that the German reforms, if ultimately approved in the final stage, could lead to schism.

Such warnings were echoed by Vatican Cardinals Marc Ouellet, in charge of bishops, and Cardinal Luis Ladaria, in charge of doctrine, in the meeting Friday.

According to the joint statement, they “spoke with frankness and clarity about the concerns and reservations of the methodology, content and proposals of the Synodal Path and proposed, for the sake of unity of the church,” that they be dealt with later, when the global Catholic Church takes up such issues in a universal way next year.

The statement said a “moratorium” was proposed, but was rejected.

Francis has since launched a global “synodal path” which involves soliciting input from lay Catholics around the globe that has echoed many of the same themes as the German process, including the role of women in the church and homosexuality. But there is no indication the global church is prepared to go as far as the German church in pressing for change.

Francis, for his part, has personally intervened on the German process and recently pointed to a 2019 letter he wrote to the German faithful as summarizing all he has to say on the matter. In that letter, Francis offered support for the process but warned church leaders against falling into the temptation of change for the sake of adaptation to particular groups or ideas.

Bishop Georg Baetzing, who heads the German bishops conference, for his part, explained the work undertaken so far, stressing that it was based on listening to the “people of God and the pain over abuses committed by clergy,” the statement said.

Baetzing is scheduled to give a press conference on Saturday.

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Church of England should allow same-sex marriage, says Bishop of Oxford

Steven Croft apologises for church’s history on LGBTQ+ rights, but calls for ‘love and respect for those who take different views’

Croft apologised for the church’s stance on gay relationships, specifically their slowness to ‘reach better decisions and practice on these matter’.

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The Church of England should allow same-sex marriage for congregation and clergy, the Bishop of Oxford has said, becoming the most senior figure to weigh in on the subject.

The Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft also acknowledged the “acute pain and distress of LGBTQ+ people in the life of the church”, and apologised for his own views being “slow to change”.

But he said there must be a discourse into how the church tackles the subject in future. “Any settlement must be founded on love and respect: love and respect for LGBTQ+ people and their families within and beyond the church, love and respect for those who take different views,” he added.

In a 52-page essay, Croft apologised for the church’s stance on gay relationships, specifically their slowness to “reach better decisions and practice on these matters”.

But the bishop also said clergy must be able to refuse to opt in to any new arrangements, saying that it should be recognised that keeping a “traditional view of marriage and human sexuality” is a “legitimate and honourable position”.

Croft’s statement is significant in light of the current laws which prevents ministers of the Church of England from carrying out same-sex marriages.

In the piece, Croft said: “I need to acknowledge, right at the beginning of this essay, the acute pain and distress of LGBTQ+ people in the life of the church.

“I am sorry that, corporately, we have been so slow as a church to reach better decisions and practice on these matters. I am sorry that my own views were slow to change and that my actions, and lack of action, have caused genuine hurt, disagreement and pain. I remain on a very steep learning curve.

“Listening to this pain and distress has been key in my own journey and to the changes in my own views.”

The bishop added that he wanted to see the removal of the legal barriers preventing gay marriage within the church and would like public services of blessings to take place regarding gay marriage in churches.

The essay also asserted that clergy should have the freedom of conscience to enter their own same-sex marriages.

Speaking of those he described as holding “more conservative positions”, he said he did not want to see people feeling excluded as a result of any changes.

He wrote: “They are sisters and brothers in Christ. It would be a tragedy if a journey towards inclusion for one group of Christians became an experience of exclusion for another.”

Bishops are considering whether to recommend any changes to teachings on same-sex relationships this week before the General Synod in February – where there could be a vote after decades of divisive talk.

Their proposals are due by the end of the year, with signs of an opt-out conscience clause for orthodox clergy.

Croft is the only serving C of E bishop or archbishop to publicly call for such a change, although Anglican churches in Scotland have begun same-sex services.

In August, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, affirmed the validity of a declaration made in 1998 that gay sex was a sin, but said he would not seek to discipline C of E churches that would conduct or bless same-sex marriages.

Complete Article HERE!

Ex-gay monk has a dream wedding after being forced out of the Catholic Church

Anselm Bilgri

Anselm Bilgri, a former gay monk who left the Roman Catholic Church, says he would like same-sex marriages to “become normal” by marrying his longtime partner. (YouTube/Reuters)

Anselm Bilgri, a former gay monk who left the Roman Catholic Church, married his longtime partner in a beautiful ceremony.

Bilgri was ordained in 1980 by Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and served as head of the Roman Catholic Church until February 2013. He was a Benedictine monk for decades.

Bilgri, now 68, left the Catholic Church in 2020 because he was frustrated with the Church’s inability to keep up with the times due to its stance on same-sex marriage. He was also among several figures who left the Catholic Church in Germany following abuse scandals.

Bilgri married partner Markus Achter, 41, in a beautiful ceremony in a Munich church on October 8 by a priest from the Old Catholic Church. The Old Catholic Church allows priests to marry and approves same-sex relationships.

The couple say Reuters that they hoped their marriage would help normalize LGBTQ+ relationships and same-sex marriages.

“I immediately thought: now I have actually received the seven sacraments, from ordination to marriage,” Bilgri said. “And I would like it to become normal.”

He continued, “It goes without saying that two men, two women… It doesn’t always have to have a sexual connotation.

“Maybe they just want to support and help each other. People who want to belong together, which is also a form of love, let that become normal and possible.

Bilgri ran the brewery of a Munich monastery before becoming the prior of Andechs Abbey, where Benedictine monks have worked and prayed on Bavaria’s “holy mountain” for hundreds of years.

The former gay monk converted to the Old Catholic Church and serves as a priest in the community in Germany

Achter thought their marriage was a “very big sign” that same-sex marriages were “becoming more normal”.

“I think that’s a really big sign and it’s also becoming more normal because you often think it’s not extraordinary when you live in an environment like Munich,” Achter said. “But it’s not that normal, and it’s still something extraordinary when two men get married.”

Achter continued, “And I always think that if it becomes more and more obvious, then at some point it won’t be something special anymore.

“And that’s where we actually want to go and maybe we put a sign for that today.”

Pope Francis ended all hope of same-sex marriages in the Catholic Church when he declared in 2021 that the Church “has no power to change the sacraments”.

“I spoke about it clearly, didn’t I? said Francois. “Marriage is a sacrament. Marriage is a sacrament. The church does not have the power to change the sacraments. It is as our Lord has established.

In September, a group of Roman Catholic bishops from Belgium challenged the Vatican and allowed same-sex union blessings. The Flemish bishops said the blessing – which includes a ritual of prayers and a pledge by the couple to be faithful to each other – is part of a “welcoming church that excludes no one”.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic priest in Italy suspended for pro-LGBTQ stance

‘We have blessed anything, including weapons and wars in the past. And we don’t want to bless real love?’ asked the Rev. Giulio Mignani.

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An Italian priest, well known in the country for his support toward LGBTQ couples, abortion and euthanasia, was suspended by the Catholic Church on Monday (Oct. 3) for “holding positions that are not aligned with Church teaching.”

The Rev. Giulio Mignani, 52, a parish priest in a small Southern Italian town, has been barred by his bishop from celebrating Mass and the sacraments after vocally advocating for the welcoming of LGBTQ individuals in the church.

“The Church doesn’t condemn homosexuality but homosexual relations. Which is like saying that it’s ok to be hungry, but you can’t eat,” Mignani told Vanity Fair Italy in an article published on Wednesday.

“I mean it’s a paradigm that must be changed,” he continued. “Homosexual love is still considered a sin, a mistake, when it’s a fundamental aspect in the life of these people.”

Bishop Luigi Ernesto Palletti first reprimanded the priest in 2021, when Mignani refused to bless the palms on Palm Sunday after an announcement by the Vatican doctrinal department banning the blessing of LGBTQ couples.

Some priests in Germany began blessing LGBTQ couples in 2021 as the Catholic community in the country underwent the Synodal Path, a consultation of clergy and faithful on important topics. The Vatican’s department for the Doctrine of the Faith answered by stating that the church “cannot bless sin.”

“I said to myself: we have blessed anything, including weapons and wars in the past. And we don’t want to bless real love?” Mignani said.

The priest also appeared in local newspapers and media channels in support of an anti-LGBTQ discrimination bill named after its proponent, the left-wing politician Alessandro Zan. The Italian bishops’ conference opposed the bill, which was never approved by the Senate.

Mignani has also spoken in favor of abortion and euthanasia, both condemned by the church, and claimed Catholic doctrine is dated and out of touch with society. “To quote a parable of Jesus, today we don’t have one lost sheep and the other 99 in the pen, but the opposite,” he said in the interview.

Mignani said he doubts he will change his views after the period of reflection mandated by his bishop. He said he would like to continue being a priest and that he draws hope from the show of support he has received from faithful and clergy members.

“But most people don’t say it, because if they spoke up, they would be suspended like me,” the priest said. “But sometimes you have to take a stand in front of everyone, to give a new direction.”

Complete Article HERE!