Why are there so many Goth Catholics

Marriage for all: The pressure on the Catholic Church is increasing

Marriage for all is on the verge of a political breakthrough. Now gay and lesbian associations are also calling for the church to open up.

There are many indications that gays and lesbians in Switzerland will be able to say yes from January 1, 2021: On Wednesday, the National Council will be the first to decide on “marriage for all”. And apart from the SVP, the EPP and the EDU, all parties have issued the yes slogan - even the CVP, which was undecided for a long time. If the Council of States agrees in September and the referendum is not called afterwards, the proposal can come into force at the beginning of 2021.

The question remains: what does the opening of civil marriage mean for the churches? While the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches decided in November to allow marriage for everyone in front of the altar in the future, everything will remain the same in the Catholic Church for the time being: weddings of homosexual couples are not an issue, says Encarnación Berger-Lobato, spokeswoman for the Swiss Episcopal Conference. «For Catholics, marriage is a sacrament that can only be received by men and women. That is why Catholics and Reformed do not mean the same thing when they talk about marriage. "

"If the church refuses, it will maneuver itself even further into the sidelines."

A few days before the national council debate, however, the pressure on the Catholic Church is increasing: It should jump over its shadow, says Roman Heggli from the gay umbrella organization Pink Cross. Ultimately, the opening corresponds to society's desire for equality. "If the church refuses, it will maneuver itself further into the sidelines."

Anna Rosenwasser from the lesbian organization Switzerland agrees: “The Catholic Church is characterized by solidarity and charity. Now it should show that this love includes everyone. "

That's what the law says

Criticism comes not least from the Reformed: "The Catholics should also provide at least one form of blessing," says Michel Müller, President of the Church Council of the Reformed Church in the canton of Zurich. Otherwise, the question arises whether this practice violates the prohibition of discrimination in the cantonal constitution. "Because as a public corporation, the Catholic Church is subject to the constitution."

The question of whether churches are allowed to reject same-sex couples at all was already an issue before the vote on the ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in February. The opponents of the expansion of the racism criminal norm feared precisely this development: that churches could be forced to marry with the new criminal article.

Salome Zimmermann is president of the “Marriage for All” committee and a former judge at the Federal Administrative Court. It comes to the conclusion that there is no final assessment. "The aim of expanding the penal norm is protection from hatred and equality from economic benefits," she says. “And it is unclear whether a wedding is an economic achievement. Probably not. "

The decisive factor, however, is that the regional churches - and thus also the Catholic Church - are subject to the prohibition of discrimination in the federal constitution. "In the event of a conflict, a court would ultimately have to decide what is weighted higher: the prohibition of discrimination or freedom of belief."

Bishop Gmür sprints forward

Regardless of the legal situation, there has long been internal resistance to the rigid stance of the Catholic Church. The Swiss Catholic Women's Association is particularly involved in this matter.

President Simone Curau-Aepli knows that the Swiss Bishops' Conference cannot simply disregard the church canon and allow weddings. At least when it comes to blessings, she expects more openness: "The bishops should use their creative freedom to allow priests to officially celebrate blessings."

Curau-Aepli regards the fact that the topic is now much broader and more in-depth discussed as a success. Many Catholics meanwhile have a liberal stance. In the diocese of Basel, for example, Bishop Felix Gmür launched the Rainbow Pastoral Working Group in 2016, thus taking a step towards the LGBT community.

The working group is committed to making the blessing of homosexual couples possible: "Especially in the Catholic tradition there is a rich treasure trove of blessings, for example from houses and apartments that are being moved into," says Barbara Kückelmann, who is responsible for pastoral care. "For affected couples it would be a very important sign of their equality and their godly creativeness if there were an official form for a blessing rite."

So far, this appeal remains wishful thinking. According to a pastoral letter from the Bishops' Conference from 2002, a single homosexual person can be blessed, but not "the establishment of a homosexual relationship". And this instruction continues to apply. Marriage for everyone or not.