A German archbishop has told priests they can confer blessings on same-sex couples without fear of punishment.
The move by Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin opens the gates to church services for the blessings of couples who “cannot or do not want to marry sacramentally”.
In a five-page, 2,000-word letter, the archbishop told the priest of his archdiocese that “it is no longer possible to say that all who are in any so-called irregular situation are in a state of mortal sin and have lost sanctifying grace”.
“Acknowledging the goodness of a relationship is a way of speaking well of God to those people,” he wrote, according to reports.
He quoted Amoris Laetitia, the 2016 apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis on the pastoral care of families, to emphasise however that a blessing did not infer approval or legitimisation but the acknowledgement that “we all remain guilty people who need the edifying grace of God for our path in life”.
“Pope Francis emphatically calls for pastoral discernment,” wrote Archbishop Koch, adding that the Pontiff “gives the local churches, the pastors, a lot of leeway in dealing with people in so-called ‘irregular’ situations”.
He urged priests to use their judgement in deciding who was eligible for such blessings and said he hoped the archdiocese would succeed in “preserving unity in diversity”.
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