Berlin Archbishop Heiner Koch has announced he’ll be appointing a pastoral minister for the LGBTQI community after a meeting with the Lesbian and Gay Association, the Berlin Archdiocese announced.
The meeting came at the request of the Lesbian and Gay Association of Berlin-Brandenburg “to look at the contradictions within the Catholic Church and the simultaneous solidarity shown toward LGBTQ people in the wake of the Vatican’s renewed rejection last February of any church blessing for homosexual couples”.
According to the Archbishop, this was an important step towards addressing the marginalisation and discrimination some in the LGBTQI community feel is directed at them from the Catholic Church, without fear of increased persecution.
Improve Relationships Between Catholic Church & LGBTQI Community
He said the fact that queer people are double marginalised, both within the Catholic community for not being heterosexual, as well as being judged for being Catholic in the LGBTQI community as being “painful and problematic” and hoped the introduction of a pastoral minister will improve relations between the two groups.
Another agenda item at the meeting also looked at the solidarity shown toward the LGBTQI community in the wake of the rejection in February of any blessings for homosexual couples in March, as reported by the Star Observer back in May.
The solidarity was shown in a remarkable display of public defiance of the church, when on the 10th of May this year, close to 100 hundred churches around the country held blessing ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples, held in front of news cameras as part of the “Love Wins” movement.
Catholic churches around Germany are offering blessings for gay couples – defying the Vatican's refusal to approve same-sex partnerships.
More than 100 churches around the country have signed up to host services under the motto "love wins." pic.twitter.com/KNfU6KnyTS
— DW Politics (@dw_politics) May 10, 2021
Berlin Archbishop’s Balancing Act
Ulrich Kessler, a member of the board of the Lesbian and Gay Association of Berlin-Brandenburg, said at the time he had been surprised and thrilled “that the rainbow flags were also waving from Catholic Church spires, decorated internet pages and posts in the social media and that many church congregations had called out for blessing services.”
It seems that Koch is walking a fine line though, because even though this meeting with the Lesbian and Gay Association of Berlin-Brandenburg addressed that solidarity, Koch himself does not necessarily agree with the actions of the “Love Wins” movement and the protest blessings, saying it was troublesome, “when church political pressure should be exerted by means of blessing services.”
He did promise to continue to apply pressure though, saying he was committed “without reservation to award God’s blessing to the love and relationship of people” and said he would continue to explore possibilities, including within the framework of the Synodal Path reform project of the Catholic Church in Germany.