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RELIGION

‘Sexuality is part of life’: German churches bless gay couples in defiance of Vatican

Catholic churches around Germany were offering blessings for gay couples on Monday in a protest against the Vatican's refusal to approve same-sex partnerships.

'Sexuality is part of life': German churches bless gay couples in defiance of Vatican
A service at the church of St Benedikt in Munich raising a rainbow flag to bless gay couples. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Felix Hörhager

More than 100 churches around the country have signed up to host services under the motto “love wins” on or around May 10th in the scheme initiated by priests, deacons and volunteers.

At the services, all couples will be invited to be blessed – regardless of sexual orientation.

“We raise our voices and say: We will continue to stand by people who commit themselves to a binding partnership and bless their relationship,” said a statement on the initiative’s website.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the powerful Vatican office responsible for defending church doctrine, handed down a ruling in March that same-sex unions could not be blessed despite their “positive elements”.

The office wrote that while God “never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in this world… he does not and cannot bless sin”.

READ ALSO: Germany plans fines up to €30,000 in gay conversion therapy ban

Some German priests reacted to the announcement using a hashtag calling for “disobedience” online.

While some prominent German bishops have supported the Vatican’s stance, others accused the CDF of seeking to stifle theological debates which have been active among German Catholics in recent years.

A German petition calling for the CDF’s ruling to be ignored was signed by 2,600 priests and deacons in March, as well as 277 theologians.

May 10th was chosen for the blessings because it is associated with God sending Noah a rainbow – a symbol often used in support of the LGBT  community.

Under the initiative, churches in cities including Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich will hold traditional masses as well as open-air services and online events.

“We must finally recognise as a church that sexuality is part of life – and not only in a marriage between a man and a woman, but in all faithful, dignified and respectful love relationships,” said Birgit Mock, co-chair of the German Synodal Path’s working group on sexuality.

Member comments

  1. Accepting people just as they are – when they are not causing harm and destruction to others – is simply the way of life.

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ISLAM

Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday

The mayor of Cologne has announced a two-year pilot project that will allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer on the Muslim day of rest each week.

Mosques in Cologne to start broadcasting the call to prayer every Friday
The DITIP mosque in Cologne. Photo: dpa | Henning Kaiser

Mosques in the city of the banks of the Rhine will be allowed to call worshippers to prayer on Fridays for five minutes between midday and 3pm.

“Many residents of Cologne are Muslims. In my view it is a mark of respect to allow the muezzin’s call,” city mayor Henriette Reker wrote on Twitter.

In Muslim-majority countries, a muezzin calls worshippers to prayer five times a day to remind people that one of the daily prayers is about to take place.

Traditionally the muezzins would call out from the minaret of the mosque but these days the call is generally broadcast over loudspeakers.

Cologne’s pilot project would permit such broadcasts to coincide with the main weekly prayer, which takes place on a Friday afternoon.

Reker pointed out that Christian calls to prayer were already a central feature of a city famous for its medieval cathedral.

“Whoever arrives at Cologne central station is welcomed by the cathedral and the sound of its church bells,” she said.

Reker said that the call of a muezzin filling the skies alongside church bells “shows that diversity is both appreciated and enacted in Cologne”.

Mosques that are interested in taking part will have to conform to guidelines on sound volume that are set depending on where the building is situated. Local residents will also be informed beforehand.

The pilot project has come in for criticism from some quarters.

Bild journalist Daniel Kremer said that several of the mosques in Cologne were financed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “a man who opposes the liberal values of our democracy”, he said.

Kremer added that “it’s wrong to equate church bells with the call to prayer. The bells are a signal without words that also helps tell the time. But the muezzin calls out ‘Allah is great!’ and ‘I testify that there is no God but Allah.’ That is a big difference.”

Cologne is not the first city in North Rhine-Westphalia to allow mosques to broadcast the call to prayer.

In a region with a large Turkish immigrant community, mosques in Gelsenkirchen and Düren have been broadcasting the religious call since as long ago as the 1990s.

SEE ALSO: Imams ‘made in Germany’: country’s first Islamic training college opens its doors

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