In Midst of Debate, Austrian Parishes Bless Same-Gender Couples’ Love – New Ways Ministry

Amid debates in the German-speaking world over whether the Church should bless same-gender couples, two parishes in Austria have already begun doing so alongside the blessing heterosexual couples on Valentine’s Day.

Two parishes in the Diocese of Linz, Wels-St. Francis and the Ursuline Church, offered the blessings for all couples this week, as they have done for several years. Diocesan newspaper KirchenZeitung reported (the following is a computerized translation, so it is “rough” in a few places):

“I am glad that we can access the symbolic treasure chest of the church. The ritual has a tremendous power. We underline the importance of relationships,” says Irmgard Lehner, parish assistant in Wels-St. Francis. In Lehner’s parish, there have been blessings for Valentine’s Day for many years, the last one took place last Sunday. Dozens of lovers had their hands put on and make a sign of the cross on their foreheads. Whether couples in love or long-married couples, whether people in happy or momentarily troubled relationships. Everyone is welcome.

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