Belgian bishops on Tuesday released draft text for a prayer liturgy for same-sex couples that includes prayers, scriptural readings and expressions of commitment, despite a 2021 Vatican directive banning church blessings for homosexual couples.
The Flemish-speaking bishops have stressed that the “moment of prayer” is in no way akin to a sacramental marriage, which according to Catholic doctrine is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. On the contrary, they said their proposal was part of the Belgian church’s efforts to be more sensitive to its gay members and to “create an atmosphere of respect, recognition and integration”. They cited Pope Francis’ call for the church to be more gay-friendly.
The publication of the text, first reported by Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad, marks the latest salvo in efforts by more progressive churches to extend greater reach to gay people, spearheaded by the German church and its controversial dialogue process. “synodal” with the German laity. .
Catholic teaching maintains that homosexuals should be treated with dignity and respect, but that homosexual acts are “inherently disordered”. Last year, the Vatican’s office of doctrine ruled that the church cannot bless same-sex unions “because God cannot bless sin.” The proposed Belgian ceremony includes an “opening word, an opening prayer, a reading of the scriptures” as well as the texts of two proposed prayers – one committing the two parties to themselves and the other, a prayer of the community for the couple – and ends with the “Our Father’s prayer, a closing prayer and a blessing. Tommy Scholtes, spokesman for the Belgian bishops’ conference, denied that the proposal amounted to a “ blessing” and even less to a sacramental marriage. He said that this was part of the decision of the Belgian bishops to create contact persons within each diocese in charge of the pastoral care of homosexuals. With the creation of such ” point of contact,” Scholtes said there will be “opportunity for same-sex couples to pray together, and others can also pray for them.” “But there is no blessing, no exchange of consent, there is no such thing as marriage,” he said. é at the Associated Press.
The text of the proposed commitment prayer suggests that the couple give thanks to God for letting them find each other and pledge to be there for each other throughout their lives. The community then responds with a prayer of its own, praying that God’s grace “will make their commitment to one another strong and faithful.” Reverend James Martin, who has championed greater church awareness of the LGBTQ community, said the Flemish text suggests a blessing.
Given a same-sex couple in prayer, “then you ask God to be with same-sex partners not just in the home they share, but in what prayer calls their commitment,” Martin said. .
“So unless I’m missing something in the translation, although the prayer is not a formal ratification of same-sex marriage, when you invoke God’s mercy on someone, you are asking God to bless them .”
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