"Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, the Vice President of the German Bishops' Conference, has called for a discussion about the possibility of blessing homosexual relationships. He believes there to be 'much [that is] positive' in such relationships.
The new statement from Bishop Bode comes in the wake of a recent interview given to the German journal Herder Korrespondenz by Cardinal Reinhard Marx – President of the German Bishops' Conference and papal adviser – in which he proposed that the Catholic Church rethink her teaching on sexual morality in which he argued against 'blind rigorism.' For him, it is 'difficult to say from the outside whether someone is in the state of mortal sin.' Marx applied this statement not only to men and women in 'irregular situations,' but also to those in a homosexual relationship.
There has to be 'a respect for a decision made in freedom' and for one's 'conscience,' claimed Marx. He said that one has to take into account the 'concrete circumstances,' while still remembering 'one's own responsibility in light of the Gospels.' Of course, added Marx, one also has 'to listen to the voice of the Church.'
In the new interview with the German regional newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, Bishop Bode made remarks which have already led to a vivid discussion in Germany, with conservative Catholics like Mathias von Gersdorff and Dr. Markus Büning raising their voices in protest.
'I think we have to discuss this matter in more detail within the Church,' says Bishop Bode – who has been the bishop of Osnabrück since 1995 – adding that it does not help to maintain 'silence' in this matter. As the newspaper report continues:
The Vice President of the German Bishops' Conference proposed to reflect upon a blessing [of such homosexual couples], which is, however, not to be mistaken as a wedding. Even if the 'marriage for all' is different from the Church's understanding of marriage, it is, after all, a political reality.
Bishop Bode asks, with reference to homosexual couples, 'how do we do justice to them?' and adds: 'how do we accompany them pastorally and liturgically?' Moreover, the German prelate – who had been one of the representatives of the German bishops at the Synod of Bishops on marriage and the family – proposes to reconsider the Church’s stance on active homosexual relationships which are regarded as gravely sinful. 'We have to reflect upon the question as to how to assess in a differentiated manner a relationship between two homosexual persons,' he says. 'Is there not so much positive and good and right so that we have to be more just?'...
Bishop Bode had raised such a discussion already earlier, in 2015, when he proposed 'private blessings' for homosexual couples, and claimed that 'remarried' divorcees 'perhaps corresponds in a better way than the first [relationship] to the Covenant of God with men.' Bode then wondered whether such new relationships 'always have to have as a consequence the exclusion from [the Sacraments of] Confession and Communion.'
In 2015, Bode claimed the Church should take the 'life realities' of people into account and even consider those 'realities' to be a third source of revelation – next to Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition."
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