German Catholics Divided on Same-Sex Unions

EWTN News in Depth covers the global implications of developments in Germany, plus reaction to President Biden’s first address to Congress and more.

Montse Alvarado, AC Wimmer and Matthew Bunson discuss the German Synodal Path on the April 30 episode of ‘EWTN News in Depth.’
Montse Alvarado, AC Wimmer and Matthew Bunson discuss the German Synodal Path on the April 30 episode of ‘EWTN News in Depth.’ (photo: EWTN)

A move by Church leaders in Germany to bless same-sex unions May 10 has sharply divided German Catholics.

EWTN News in Depth speaks with experts in the U.S. and in Germany about the practical and theological implications of the planned “blessing services” and the ripple effect of this ecclesial divide across the universal Church.

A special report from Martin Rothweiler of EWTN Germany explains how clergy and laypeople are reacting to the controversy. Host Montse Alvarado conducts an in-depth interview with Dominican Father Thomas Petri, dean and acting president of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., for his take, also on the April 30 episode.


Key Take-Aways: 

  • German Catholic bishops are defying Pope Francis in an attempt to modernize age-old Church teaching and divine revelation about marriage. 
  • The union itself implies a contrariety to God’s design, so it cannot be blessed by the Church.
  • The head of the German Bishop’s Conference insists that Germany will always be part of the universal Church, giving other Catholic leaders hope that unity can be maintained and schism avoided.

Watch the interview:

The Wrap from the Experts 

Here’s the wrap:

From AC Wimmer (Editor-in-Chief of CNA Germany):

  • More than 60% of non-practicing German Catholics show indifference toward controversial meetings between their country’s laity and bishops (termed the “Synodal Path”) to discuss organizational and epistemological questions surrounding clerical sex abuse, the role of women in the Church, the priesthood and marriage.
  • Inclusivity remains a “burning question” during these meetings, which may reflect the ethnic diversity of the German Church, which has become increasingly a “migrant Church.”

From Matthew Bunson (EWTN News Executive Editor and Bureau Chief):

  • The German Synodal Path’s final issue votes in 2022 could have wide ramifications. Some experts fear that the global dissemination of the German votes could encourage a “democratic” approach with regard to major issues in the life of the Church at national and local levels, which is something that Pope Francis has warned against.
  • A global Catholic synod in October 2022 will examine the synodal process itself so that the world’s Catholic leadership can prayerfully examine the call for every baptized person to discern God’s will and participate in the mission of the Church with the Holy Spirit, plus other related topics. 

Title IX Religious Exemptions Under Threat

EWTN’s Kate Scanlon reports on a class-action lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Education’s religious-exemption rules that could criminalize religious colleges and universities whose codes of conduct often prohibit extramarital sex.

What’s Happening: Religious institutions have historically exercised a constitutional right to practice their faith authentically. Title IX religious exemptions have protected freedom of religion in higher education. Removal of these exemptions would very likely strangle religious universities’ ability to follow and instill doctrines of their faith.

Why It Matters: “I think it’s very important for Catholic institutions and religious institutions generally to be confident and up front about their convictions and to model those convictions in their rules for residents and their guidelines they offer to students,” says Dr. Michael McLean, President of Thomas Aquinas College.

“We don’t want to send signals that are contrary to the faith we’re trying to teach our students … we don't want to have men living in the in the same rooms as women. We don’t want to have biological males playing on our female sports teams. We don’t want to be the ones who are, through our health plan, paying for transgender transition surgery. ... But that’s a different thing from discriminating against our students. And we want to send the message that all our students are children of God and welcome here,” says John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America. Watch the Segment: 

Reaction to President Biden’s Speech to Congress

Pastor Chris Butler of the Chicago Embassy Church Network, a congressional candidate running as a Democrat in Illinois, shares his perspective about issues of importance to Catholics that were raised in President Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress. Watch the segment:

Inspired by a Teacher-Saint — in “Your Faith in Depth”

A woman inspired by the first American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, takes a step back in time to share her faith through a living history program. EWTN’s Mark Irons report includes lessons she's learned from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton that help her live out her faith today.

Watch the full April 30 episode of EWTN News in Depth here:

Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, shown speaking to the media on the opening day of a congress of the Synodal Way, Feb. 3, in Frankfurt, Germany, had his resignation accepted by Pope Francis March 25.

A Fore-Bode-ing Sign for the Synodal Way?

ANALYSIS: Pope Francis’ acceptance of the resignation of Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, a major proponent of the Synodal Way in Germany, is widely seen as a blow to the controversial process. But was this a ‘strategic element’ of the Vatican’s decision?

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