Munich, Germany, Dec 24, 2019 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Reinhard Marx has expressed the view that homosexual couples can receive a Church blessing “in the sense of a pastoral accompaniment” in the Catholic Church, but not in a manner that resembles marriage.
In an interview with the German magazine Stern, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising was asked, “What do you do when a homosexual couple asks you for an episcopal blessing?”
Marx responded: “I can bless them both in the sense of pastoral accompaniment, we can pray together. But theirs cannot be a marriage-like relationship.”
While there is room for differing interpretations of Marx’s comments, the website “katholisch.de,” funded by the German bishops, has reported on the matter using the headline “Marx: Homosexual couples can receive a blessing.”
After that report was published, Matthias Kopp, press director for the German bishops’ conference, told CNA that the conference has nothing to add to the published interview.
CNA asked the Archdiocese of Munich to clarify the cardinal’s remarks, and whether the blessing of homosexual couples is practiced in the diocese. The archdiocese has not yet responded.
In the magazine interview, Marx also said that he told the [Vatican] Synod on the Family in 2015 that homosexual couples, who are faithful to each other and support each other, should not be “negatively bracketed” by the Church or told by the Church that stable homosexual relationships are considered worthless.
At the same, Marx affirmed in the interview with Stern that a homosexual union “is not a marriage” in the Catholic sense of the word, and that the sacrament of marriage is between a man and a woman.
Marx also commented on the question of women’s ordination.
Asked about the sacramental ordination of women, Marx, who is referred to as “the most powerful Catholic in Germany” by the magazine, said that Pope Francis has told him that “the door is closed,” given Pope St. John Paul II’s statement of 1994. Nonetheless, the German prelate claimed that debate on the issue is “not over.”
The interview is not the first time Cardinal Marx has spoken on Catholic blessings of homosexual couples.
In a February 2018 interview with the Bavarian State Broadcasting Company, Marx agreed that a blessing is possible, however qualifying there could be “no set of rules” on the question – rather, the decision would be that of “a priest or pastoral worker.”
After CNA reported that, the German bishops’ conference requested a “correction” of CNA’s translation.
More recently, Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, following consultations in early December, stated that both hetero- and homosexuality are “normal forms of sexual predisposition, which cannot or should be be changed with the help of a specific socialization.”
Koch, who attended the Vatican Synod on the Family together with Marx and is Chairman of the Marriage and Family Commission of the German bishops’ conference, spoke after the German bishops asserted they were committed to “newly assessing” the universal Church’s teaching on homosexuality – and sexual morality in general – ahead of a two-year “synodal process.”