Germany’s health minister has come to blows with the Vatican over the church’s refusal to bless same-sex civil unions.
Jens Spahn, 40, who married husband Daniel Funke, also 40, in 2017, criticised the Roman Catholic Church for “blessing guinea pigs” but not queer couples in civil unions.
The Vatican and Pope Francis have sent conflicting signals over their support for LGBT+ Catholics, with the pope’s inclusive words often at odds with the church’s anti-LGBT+ actions, leaving many queer believers disoriented and frustrated.
For Spahn, this confusion has rattled him deeply – but not enough to challenge his faith, he told Germany’s Bunte magazine.
“My belief is deeply anchored inside of me,” he said, adding that as a gay man, he is well aware of the “many mistakes the church has made in its long history”.
Spahn voiced his frustration at a note issued in March by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s top doctrinal office, stating that Catholic clergy do not have the authority to bless queer civil unions.
“There are priests who bless guinea pigs and motorcycles,” Spahn said.
Jens Spahn (L) and his husband Daniel Funke attend a banquet at Bellevue Palace. (Christian Marquardt – Pool/Getty Images)
“But two people who love each other and are believers wishing for a blessing for their promise to be there for each other all life long are being rejected by the church.”
“This bothers and annoys me. But it does not lead me to turn away from my belief or the church.”
The Vatican pronouncement said God “does not and cannot bless sin”.
It then referred to the writings of Pope Francis in Amoris laetitia, where he said that 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”.
Just two months later, and the progressive wing of Germany’s Catholic Church defied the note by doing just that, offering blessings to countless LGBT+ couples.
“Love wins,” the Pfarrer-Initiative wrote on its website. “Love is a blessing. People who love each other are blessed
“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.”
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