Interesting news out of Germany-- the Catholic Archbishop of Berlin has reportedly come out in favor of treating those in long-term homosexual relationships equal to those in heterosexual relationships.
According to the English language newspaper, The Local, Berlin Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki told a crowd on Thursday that the church should come to view long-term, faithful homosexual relationships in the same light as heterosexual ones:
"When two homosexuals take responsibility for one another, if they deal with each other in a faithful and long-term way, then you have to see it in the same way as heterosexual relationships," Woelki told an astonished crowd, according to a story in the Tagesspiegel newspaper.
Woekli acknowledged that the church saw the relationship between a man and a woman as the basis for creation, but added that it was time to think further about the church's attitude toward same sex relationships.
Francis DeBernardo, writing on the New Ways Ministry blog, said that Woelki is not alone in challenging Catholic teaching on this issue:
Speaking at the 98th Katholikentag (Catholic), a conference of 60,000 Catholics in Mannheim, Woelki joins a growing chorus of episcopal voices who are calling for change in the hierarchy’s traditionally absolutist refusal to acknowledge the moral goodness of lesbian and gay relationships.
Last December, London’s Archbishop Vincent Nichols made headlines by supporting civil partnerships for lesbian and gay couples in the U.K. That same month, Fr. Frank Brennan, a Jesuit legal scholar in Australia, also called for similar recognition of same-sex relationships. In January, Bishop Paolo Urso of Ragusa, Italy, also called for recognition of civil partnerships in his country.
Also at last week's conference in Mannheim, according to The Local, Bishop of Trier Stephen Ackerman argued there should not be a blanket ban on the Catholic Church employing priests who have committed sexual crimes.
There are "a number of motives," Ackermann told a crowd listening to a debate on the subject. It made sense to differentiate among the different types of offenders, he said. "Otherwise we could slide into a dynamic that calls for all of them to be imprisoned," he said.