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Cardinal Ruini sees ‘risk of schism’ in Germany after Vatican ‘no’ to same-sex blessings

By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Cardinal Camillo Ruini answers questions at the Vatican press office on June 17, 2014. (Daniel Ibáñez/CNA)

Rome Newsroom, May 4, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Italian Cardinal Camillo Ruini has said that he is praying there will be no schism in Germany, as priests and bishops in the country announce their disagreement with a document from the Vatican saying the Church cannot bless same-sex unions.

In a May 4 interview with the newspaper Il Foglio, Ruini said: “I hope with all my heart that there will not be any schism, and I pray for this.”

The 90-year-old cardinal referenced Pope Francis’ 2019 letter in which he asked German Catholics to keep a “connection with the universal Church.”

“These words of the pope offer a standard and a valuable direction,” Ruini said. “I do not deny, therefore, that there is a risk of schism, but I trust that, with God’s help, it can be overcome.”

Ruini’s comments come after a number of priests and bishops in the German-speaking world have expressed support for blessings for same-sex partnerships, despite a recent document from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) which said the Church cannot bless such unions.

In Germany, Catholic pastoral workers have planned a nationwide event on May 10 in defiance of the Vatican ruling. Organizers hope that same-sex couples across Germany will take part in the initiative, known as “Segnungsgottesdiensten für Liebende,” or “blessing services for lovers.”

The CDF published a “Responsum ad dubium” March 15, with the approval of Pope Francis, replying to the question, “does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” The CDF answered, “Negative,” outlining its reasoning in an explanatory note and accompanying commentary.

Ruini, who was Rome’s vicar general from 1991 to 2008, and president of the Italian bishops’ conference for 16 years, said that “people certainly can be blessed, but because they are converted, not because they are confirmed in their sin.”

“God himself blesses the sinful man so that he allows himself to be changed by Him, but He cannot bless sin,” he added.

“I would like to emphasize the strength of this position: it is not just a question of something that the Church has decided not to do, but of something that the Church cannot do. Consequently, no one in the Church has this power,” Ruini said.

Ruini has a reputation for speaking out on social and political issues related to the Catholic Church, and, especially during his years in leadership positions, made frequent media appearances.

He joins other Catholic cardinals and bishops who have recently expressed concern about the situation of the Church in Germany.

In an interview with Colm Flynn that aired on EWTN last month, Australian Cardinal George Pell said he thought that “there is a percentage of the German Church that seems to be resolutely heading in the wrong direction.”

English Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has said that he is worried the German Church’s “Synodal Way” could lead to a “de facto schism.”

Ruini emphasized May 4 that “the Church today is against every unjust discrimination of homosexual persons and wishes that they would be welcomed in the Christian community with respect and consideration.”

The object of dispute, he continued, “lies in the moral evaluation of homosexual relationships and the unions that involve them.”

“According to the constant teaching of Sacred Scripture, the Old and New Testament, and ecclesial tradition, homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” he said, “because they are not suitable for transmitting life and are not based on a true affective and sexual complementarity. Therefore, in no case can they be approved.”

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  1. I’m sort of wondering what the Germans will call their new church. Maybe they’ll take a hint from a Flannery O’Conner novel and call it “the Catholic Church without Christ.”

    • In this case, why is a schism a bad. Let’s face reality, they essentially have left the Church anyways. All they are is an open sore trying to change Catholic Doctrine to their view of modernity. So why pretend they are part of the Church Christ founded, make it official and just leave, please!!

      • It’s heartbreaking for the actual faithful Catholics who are burdened with leaders like this and will be left bereft of their churches and the Sacraments.

        • Response of many parishes to the pandemic is helping the process along this road -churches locked Blessed Sacrament Chapel blocked etc. – all while the Mass is “spiced up” by parishioners being encouraged to wave to each other or flashing the sign of peace and clapping loudly for someone’s good homily. Royal events get more respect from subjects —-and to think Catholics participate in the HEAVENLY BANQUET. It just keeps getting worse! sigh— Still, the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear?

      • Mike,
        I think it’s bad because a) it will likely be permanent and b) other bishops outside of Germany may join them. The best solution is to replace the bishops or name coadjutor bishops for the German dioceses.

  2. The fading old guard speaks out with clarity and conviction, sadly as if a voice from the past in a woke Church. Cardinal Camillo Ruini defended John Paul II against his detractors, calls same sex relations exactly what it is, disordered and sinful. Leadership, described elsewhere as having abdicated [to whom is a fearful thought] will not likely join ranks and perhaps stem a schism in the making. What’s worthy of note too marking his moral integrity is his compassion for his wayward German brothers.

  3. If Pope Francis wants to exercise the Petrine ministry with integrity, he needs to make it perfectly clear that the only real way to avert schism is repentance of sin and error on the part of the dissenters.

  4. The German Cardinals, Bishops and Priests along with the laity who support this schismatic position is not about “blessing of lovers”. Rather, it is about their intention to make LGBQT+ behavior “normal and acceptable” to the Church. Wonder if they also would bless the murderer’s acts or those of the adulterer or of the robber? By “blessing the action” they do so without regard for sin at all, unless they do not believe these acts are sinful… that is the crux of their arguement, they do not believe the actions as sinful. Shame on them, on the Church and on those they so-call “bless”.

  5. I have great respect for his Eminence Cardinal Ruini and appreciate his sentiments. But I personally think it would be better if the heterodox German Bishops just left. A significant portion of the German Church (not all of them), including many Bishops and even Cardinals, have been in de facto Schism for several decades, and their decision to formally admit that they no longer believe in the One, Holy Catholic Church’ss teachings and leave to start their own sect, would prevent them from spreading their errors throughout the world. This process has happened before in Germany, during the Reformation, and with the “Old Catholic” Sect (which rejected the doctrine of Papal infallibility)

  6. The response from Cardinal Ruini begs the question: How and when are persons of same-sex attraction (SSA) be “welcomed with respect and consideration.” Certainly, the Church has explicitly taught this as a general principle for decades, but does it not convey a certain naiveté unnuanced? Do they (i.e. the curia and their policy scriptwriters at the Holy See) continue to repeat this general teaching because, perhaps, they believe that most of these folks are living or even attempting to live celibate lives? Are we to treat our SSA friends with “respect and consideration,” without question, when some (although only some) of these same people hold reprehensible and even perverse gay-pride parades? Actively promote and even glorify their “lifestyle” in print and digitally, especially when our kids will have access to the information? When some flaunt their mutual affection publicly, even in the house of God? When some of them come up as couples for Holy Communion? When they adopt children as couples? No, the issue as a whole is complex (until it isn’t) and these issues are on a spectrum of thought and behavior. I think at some point the Magisterium must only only address that such spectrum exists, but that there are lines on it that cross into intrinsic moral evils. The Germanophone church has a problem–but so do we.

    • Charles Urban:

      –makes me think that way, way back in church history, public sinners had to stand outside and do the mea culpa until the pastor found them sincerely repentant. Maybe that was in fact a good measure for salvation and could be employed again. “Oh rigid horror of horrors shout the merciful? where’s the accompaniment?” Oh my!

  7. Came across this that also seems related to the topic at hand , entanglement in evil brings on more evil , that same cannot be ‘blessed ‘ , ? instead becomes like witchcraft , by going for power in a manner that shows contempt for the holiness of God and His Truth –

    The many issues and evils in our times can be seen as related – the media that does not spare even the children in promoting the evils in looks and thoughts .

    Good to have come across the article below that gently sheds the light as to how the intent and the context of the P statue incident can be seen for what it is ; same thus to help to be in oneness with the call of the Holy Father for the Rosary devotion for this month , that it brings forth the fruit of holiness all through .

    The Holy Father being not naive when it comes to statues – he has been a devotee of
    Our Lady of lujan – represented by a 14 inch statue of bl.Mother honoring the purity and truth of The Immaculate Conception that would not budge by the pull of the oxen .
    May the rich symbolism of same help those who feel powerless against the tide of evil to turn with trust as to where in is the true source of what they are seeking and asking for – in The Divine Will that reigned in The Mother , not in the nothingness of self will and its rebellions of misguided search for power .

  8. Oh so what. Excommunicate them all and let them form their own German National Socialist Anti-Catholic Church if they want to. They can have their own protest cross and special allegiance salute to their supreme leader and everything.

  9. They fear a Schism??? Look around yourselves, schism, Heresy, Apostasy is everywhere. And that includes just about everyone in the Vatican. Did not Vatican ll call for more “active participation”? Now that they got it they don’t know what to do with it.

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