ROME — The bishop of Innsbruck, Austria, apologized this week to those who feel offended by the Vatican’s declaration that Church ministers cannot bless same-sex couples.
In an interview with Zeit im Bild, an Austrian television program, Bishop Hermann Glettler said he was “disappointed” with the Vatican declaration, insisting it severely restricts the scope of pastoral care for gay people.
“You can never bless enough,” Bishop Glettler said, adding, “because blessing means saying something good to someone and discovering that God has already written himself into people’s lives.”
Glettler, who heads up the office for marriage and family of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, stated that his position, “and that of many bishops and also many pastors, is that people who expressly ask for a blessing and want to go this way with the church should not be denied their blessing.”
The bishop acknowledged the difficulty in the Catholic Church in evaluating active homosexuality positively because it is seen as a discrepancy to the order of creation.
I beg forgiveness from “those who are affected, who feel rejected by the church again,” said the Innsbruck bishop.
As Breitbart News reported, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a declaration on March 15 that the Church has no power to bless homosexual unions.
Blessings require both “the right intention of those who participate” and “that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation,” the CDF document, released with the explicit approval of Pope Francis, stated.
“For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage,” it said, “as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex” because such unions are “not ordered to the Creator’s plan.”
There are “absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” it stated, citing Pope Francis.
Blessing an illicit sexual union would be “to approve and encourage a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God,” it noted.
The Catholic Church, along with many other Christian churches, has consistently taught that homosexual relations are immoral.
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which adds that such acts are “contrary to the natural law.”
The homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered,” the Catechism continues, but those who experience same-sex attraction “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and every “sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
For his part, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, also expressed his misgivings about the Vatican declaration this week.
“I was not happy with this statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” Cardinal Schönborn said. “For the simple reason: The message that got across the media all over the world was just a ‘no.’ A ‘no’ to the blessing; and that’s something that hurts a lot of people inside, like sensing and saying, ‘Mother, don’t you have a blessing for me? I’m your child too.’”
“I start from a very simple observation: many mothers bless their children,” he said. “My mother still does it to this day. I don’t leave home without her blessing me. A mother will not refuse the blessing even if her son or daughter has life problems.”
The Vatican text, however, expressly allows for the blessing of individuals with same-sex attraction but draws the line at blessing the sexual union of a gay couple, insisting that God offers his blessings to all but “does not and cannot bless sin.”