The Archbishop of Berlin is set to appoint a pastoral minister for the LGBT+ community to help those who have been “painfully” sidelined by the Catholic church.
Archbishop Heiner Koch made the pledge after a meeting with the Lesbian and Gay Association, the Berlin Archdiocese announced this week.
The meeting was held to address the “contradictions” within the Catholic church after the Vatican renewed its decision to deny blessings for same-sex unions while simultaneously professing “solidarity” towards LGBT+ people.
Koch said the talks were an important step towards addressing the marginalisation and discrimination many LGBT+ Catholics feel from the church, without fear of increased persecution.
He noted the double marginalisation of experienced by many queer Catholics – both within the Catholic community as well as in the LGBT+ community – and admitted this was “problematic and painful”.
Koch also acknowledged that he had a fine line to tread on the issue and asked for understanding that, as bishop, “for the sake of the unity of the church, I cannot disregard such a position from Rome” on blessings for same-sex unions.
However, he added that he was committed “without reservation to award God’s blessing to the love and relationship of people,” and promised he would continue exploring possibilities.
This includes within the framework of the Synodal Path reform project of the Catholic church in Germany, he said.
Catholics increasingly uncomfortable with Vatican’s stance on LGBT+ relationships
This strong show of LGBT+ solidarity from one of Germany’s top archbishops reflects a growing discontent with the Vatican’s official position on same-sex relationships.
The decision to deny blessings for LGBT+ unions was met with anger across much of the European Catholic community, with many organising their own mass blessings in protest.
One event in May, dubbed “Love Wins,” saw close to a hundred churches around Germany offer religious blessings for queer couples.
“We don’t want to exclude anyone. We celebrate the diversity of people’s different life plans and love stories and ask for God’s blessings. Without any secrecy,” the event proclaimed.