How should the church proceed with Catholic practice of faith and blessing in dealing with sexual relationships? The Bishop of Passau, Stefan Oster, has now defended the traditional practice in this regard – and backed it up with arguments.
In an article published on his website on Sunday, the bishop explains why, in his view, "forms of life outside of what the Catholic Church understands by marriage" cannot be officially blessed and thus approved and affirmed. Ultimately, the church views any sexual act outside of marriage as sinful and disorderly.
Before changing pastoral practice, a "doctrine of man that is coherent for the whole Church and, in my view, then also newer" would have to be put forward, the bishop writes. The attempts made so far to do this, however, did not convince him.
Taking note of newer scientific insights
Oster agrees with the frequently raised demand that the Church should take note of new scientific insights in the evaluation of sexuality. However, human scientific research, especially on human sexuality and its development, is "often prone to ideology. From the Christian point of view, man is more than "just the product of biological evolution".
At the same time, the church is challenged to "sincerely accompany all people who find it difficult to reconcile their own lives with the teachings of the faith," writes the youth bishop of the German Bishops' Conference. Women and men of the Church are called to "walk with every person without exception, to welcome them, to accompany them, no matter how whole or broken their circumstances present themselves to us.".
Given the complexity of each life's journey, there may then be situations "that cannot be judged or even condemned simply or exclusively from a standpoint of the law of faith".