German Catholic bishops call for change to Catechism on homosexuality

German Catholic bishops call for change to Catechism on homosexuality Prelates are seen during the opening of the fall meeting of the German bishops' conference in Fulda September 22, 2020. Photo: CNS.

A German Catholic bishop has publicly defended his support for a book of blessings and rites for homosexual unions.

Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz also suggested that Catholics with homosexual inclinations cannot all be expected to live chastely and the Church should adopt a pastoral approach that acknowledges this.

“Quite a few people who have homosexual attractions belong to the Church and are truly pious in the best sense of the word,” Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz wrote in a column for his diocesan newspaper that was also published on the diocese’s website, with the headline “Don’t ignore science,” on February 3.

“As to the demand for chastity: what does it mean from the perspective of people who experience same-sex attraction? I think that few of them would consider this demand as tactful and respectful, because — as the Catechism also knows — this inclination is not self-selected.”

The book of blessings, entitled Paare. Riten. Kirche. (Couples, Rites, Church), is published by Bonifatiusverlag, a publishing house affiliated with the Archdiocese of Paderborn. The book also contains a foreword by Bishop Ludger Schepers, an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Essen.

Bishop Kohlgraf confirmed on February 3 that members of his diocesan staff participated in the book’s production and affirmed his support for its publication. He also said that he was soon “made aware” that many different forms of blessings for homosexual couples already existed “and would continue to exist” after he was made bishop of Mainz in 2017.

The bishop is the latest in a series of German prelates publicly calling for changes in the Church’s stance on homosexuality. There have also been similar appeals in neighboring Austria. In May 2020, a book considering how homosexual couples might receive a formal, liturgical blessing of their union in the Catholic Church was published, with one author calling it a response to a request from the liturgical committee of the Austrian bishops’ conference.