Rebel priests vow to defy Pope Francis and continue to bless same-sex unions

Lily Wakefield
·2-min read

A group of rebel Roman Catholic priests have vowed to defy the Pope’s orders prohibiting the blessing of same-sex relationships, insisting: “We will not reject any loving couple.”

The Pfarrer-Initiative (Priests’ Initiative) was founded in 2006 with just nine members, and has now grown to more than 350 priests and deacons led by Catholic church reform leader father Helmut Schüller.

The group has long advocated for the ordination of women and married or non-celibate priests within the Catholic Church.

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI was so angered by the group’s “disobedience” that he stripped Schüller of the title of “monsignor” and declared that he was no longer a “chaplain of his holiness”.

When Pope Francis was elected in 2013, the Pfarrer-Initiative had high hopes that he would modernise the church. But the priests were left disappointed when on Monday (15 March), the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith responded to the question of blessing same-sex couples, and insisted that God “does not bless sin”.

On Wednesday (17 March), the band of rebel priests released a “call to disobedience”, in which they said: “We, the members of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative are deeply appalled by the new Roman decree that wants to prohibit the blessing of same-sex loving couples.

“This is a relapse into times that we had hoped to be overcome with Pope Francis.

“In solidarity with so many, we will not reject any loving couple in the future who wants to celebrate God’s blessing, which they experience every day, in a church-service.

“Reality has long since shown that same-sex couples connected in love can very well celebrate God’s blessing in church. A state-of-the-art theology establishes this responsible practice.”

The band of Catholic priests and deacons added that it “vehemently protests” against the idea that same-sex love is “not part of God’s divine plan”.

The Pfarrer-Initiative continued: “Here an attempt is made to undermine the reality of creation with dogmatising presumptions.

“We deeply regret that this decree, which seeks to revive the spirit of bygone times, widens the gap between Roman bureaucracy and the local Church. This decree offends many Christians and obscures and discredits the liberating message of Jesus.”

Many high profile figures have spoken out against the Vatican order banning the blessing of same-sex unions, including US president Joe Biden.

Queer author Roxanne Gay described the rule as “corrupt and cruel”, Chasten Buttigieg sent “peace and blessings” to the LGBT+ community to remind them that “the Pope isn’t their county clerk”, and Billy Eichner proposed to Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy just “to make the Pope angry”.