This Friday, the Bundestag is scheduled to vote on "marriage for all. In a statement, the Catholic bishops had spoken out against a "dissolution of the concept of marriage" and are now appealing for a "No" in the vote.
The head of the Bishops' Commissariat, Prelate Karl Justen, has asked the members of the Bundestag not to vote in favor of the bill to open marriage to same-sex couples. In a letter to parliamentarians on Thursday, Justen referred to constitutional concerns and the great importance of marriage for the community.
Special protection of marriage
"Church, state and society share the experience that in marriage the aspects of a reliable couple relationship and the passing on of the life of the natural parents to their children are connected in a special way," says the letter, which is available to the Catholic News Agency (KNA). "As a union in which the partners ame binding responsibility for one another and which is open to joint offspring, it has great significance both for the individual and for the community". Therefore, the special protection of marriage in the Basic Law is "also understood as a value decision for a special form of living together".
Justen emphasized that the catch is that the union of a woman and a man is one of the essential characteristics of marriage. This was confirmed by the Federal Constitutional Court in its decision on the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act in 2002. A simple legal opening of marriage exceeds the limits of the interpretation of the catching.
Reference to Pope Francis
Pope Francis also distinguished between same-sex partnerships and married couples in his 2016 Apostolic Exhortation "Amoris laetitia," Justen said. "It has stated that the Catholic Church recognizes the great diversity of family situations that offer people a foothold, but partnerships between persons of the same sex cannot be equated with marriage, since the transmission of life is closed to these couples," Justen said.
The Catholic News Agency (KNA) documents the letter of Prelate Karl Justen in the text.
Dear ladies and gentlemen deputies,
the German Bundestag will deal next Friday in second and third reading with the bill to introduce the right to marry for persons of the same sex.
The essential subject of the regulation is the simple legal opening of marriage for same-sex couples.
In September 2015, the Commissariat of the German Bishops was given the opportunity to comment in the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection of the German Bundestag on two roughly identical draft bills on the opening of marriage to persons of the same sex. We have explained there that there are constitutional objections to the proposed opening of marriage to same-sex couples by simple law.
Among the essential characteristics of marriage, which Art. 6 para. 1 GG as institute guarantee protects, counts that it is the union of a woman with a man. The Federal Constitutional Court confirmed this in its decision on the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act in 2002, in which it regarded the registered civil partnership as an "aliud" of marriage and stated that the same-sex nature of the partners distinguished the institute of the registered civil partnership from marriage and at the same time constituted it. The fact that the different sexes of the spouses is an essential characteristic of marriage has not been questioned by the Federal Constitutional Court in its subsequent decisions on the legal status of registered partners. Consequently, the opening of marriage to same-sex couples by simple law is inconsistent with a constitutional characteristic of marriage.
To the extent that the draft laws ame a change in the constitution that allows for the opening of marriage under simple law, they are, in our opinion, overstretching the limits of the interpretation of the constitution. For if they abandon the essential feature of opposite-sex marriage, they ame a concept of marriage under constitutional law that has changed at its core and thus exceed the limits of permissible constitutional interpretation.
Irrespective of the specific draft legislation, I would like to call for the existing concept of marriage and thus the distinction between registered civil partnerships and marriage to be retained.
Church, state and society share the experience that in marriage the aspects of a reliable couple relationship and the passing on of the life of the natural parents to their children are connected in a special way. As an association in which the partners take binding responsibility for each other and which is open to common descendants, it has great significance both for the individual and for the community. Therefore Art. 6 para. 1 GG not only as an institute guarantee, but also as a value decision for a special form of living together. In this special form it differs from other communities, which do not have certain characteristics that characterize marriage. In this sense, Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation "Amoris laetitia" of 19.03.Distinguished between same-sex partnerships and married couples in 2016.
It has stated that the Catholic Church recognizes the great diversity of family situations that provide support for people, but that partnerships between persons of the same sex cannot be equated with marriage, since the transmission of life is closed to these couples. It thus advocates a differentiated perception of cohabiting couples and appropriate consideration of the diversity of living arrangements. As the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, explained on 28 February.06.In 2017, the German bishops declared that they would regret it if the current concept of marriage were to be dissolved.
Against this background, the distinction between the institutes of registered civil partnership and marriage remains significant, even if their legal status has been largely harmonized in recent years. We therefore ask you not to approve the proposed legislation.
Prelate Dr. Karl Justen