According to Archbishop Heiner Koch, the increasing calls for "marriage for all" represent a break with a centuries-old understanding of marriage. It goes around more than only around a controversy over the term.
Opening marriage to same-sex couples would mean a qualitative reorientation of the concept of marriage, Koch told the Catholic News Agency (KNA) over the weekend. The Berlin archbishop heads the Commission for Marriage and Family of the German Bishops' Conference and referred explicitly to statements made by the new president of the Catholic Women's Association of Germany (kfd), Mechthild Heil.
She had said in the middle of the week: "Legally, marriage and same-sex partnership are almost equal; we are now only arguing about the term."More and more people support the concept of marriage also for these partnerships.
Church is not homophobic
Koch went on to stress that the bishops' position was "in no way motivated by homophobia". A distinction between marriage and a legal institution for same-sex couples does not mean discrimination; on the contrary, it "adequately takes into account the diversity of life forms".
The archbishop added that the German bishops view marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman with openness in principle to the transmission of life. This view is "entirely in the spirit of the fathers and mothers of the Basic Law". The lasting bond between husband and wife, based on fidelity, represents a "most precious space for the education of their children".
Opening the term would confuse
Especially in view of this importance for society, the special protection of marriage has found a prominent place in the Basic Law, he said.
In contrast, a same-sex civil partnership "cannot produce children from itself," the archbishop continued. Opening up the concept of marriage leads to a division in the understanding of marriage and contributes "to a general and not least legal confusion".