The "Liebe Gewinnt" or "Love Wins" campaign has been supported by priests and dioceses across Germany with this week's blessings in towns like Berlin, Munich, and Cologne, which is host to Germany's largest archdiocese, as well as rural regions.
One of the more than 100 German priests, who this week challenged the Vatican by blessing same-sex couples, said the Catholic Church has lost its touch with the "living reality" of the LGBT+ people.
In a statement obtained by Thomson Reuters Foundation, Christian Olding, a priest in the western city of Geldern, said: "If we say that God is love, I cannot tell people who embrace loyalty, unity and responsibility to each other that theirs is not love, that it's a fifth-or sixth-class love."
"I look forward to the blessing. We're going have all forms of relationships: classic heterosexual marriages, divorced and remarried couples, unmarried couples and yes, also same-sex couples," he added. "We're going have the whole diversity of love."
In March, a petition in support of blessing same sex partners was supported by more than 2000 bishops, theologians and other representatives of the Catholic Church in Germany and Austria.
"When someone says that something cannot be discussed anymore, I find that unreasonable and inappropriate," argues Olding suggesting the Church had 'lost touch' with her LGBT+ adherents.
He added that as a priest living in the center of society, he does not want to be isolated from the everyday realities of people.
86% of Germans believe homosexuality should be tolerated according to the Pew Research Center, a US think tank.
The Vatican's Official Stance
The Vatican's doctrinal office said in March that priests cannot bless same-sex relationships in place of marriage, amid ministers in countries like Germany doing so. This enraged liberals inside the 1.3-billion-member Church.
The March blessings prohibition, which Pope Francis endorsed, caused outrage inside the Church and shocked many because he has become more tolerant of gay persons than any other pontiff.
The Pope has also spoken with gay parents and urged them to educate their children in the Church. In 2013, he made the now-famous comment about gay people finding God and wanting to follow the Church's laws, "Who am I to judge?"
The Church believes that although homosexuality is not intrinsically immoral, same-sex sexual intercourse is.
The official statement, titled "Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex," is published on the website of the Vatican and signed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Prefect Luis F. Cardinal Ladaria, S.I.
The Explanatory Note of the Responsum explained the genuine intention of the Catholic Church to accept and assist homosexual people to "understand and fully carry out God's will in their lives" for "God loves every person and the Church does the same."
The document continued by stating that refusing homosexual people the blessing of their same sex marriage is not discriminatory but merely "a reminder of the reality of the liturgical rite" and the very essence of the sacramentals. It says that doing so is "not licit" because such blessings "belong to the category of the sacramentals."
Sacramentals, according to the Responsum, are literally means by which an individual is called to live a holy life and to "praise God" when pleading for His protection in order to live the call to holiness. More specifically, sacramentals "have been established as a kind of imitation of the sacraments," and that "blessings are signs above all of spiritual effects that are achieved through the Church's intercession."
The Responsum emphasized that same-sex unions are not "legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing" since their nature is "not ordered to the Creator's plan," which is a man and a woman united in marriage for procreation as God defined from the dawn of creation. As a result, the Catholic Church has no authority to override what God defined as His plan for marriage and the human race.
Also, for better understanding of the general public, the "Article of Commentary on the Responsum ad dubium, 15.03.2021" can be found on the Vatican website and other relevant sources.
In a nutshell, the commentary said that the Catholic Church lacks the authority to bless same-sex relationships for these three reasons: Scripture, natural law, and Church teaching.