Continuing to openly challenge the Vatican, several Catholic leaders in Germany are openly supporting the blessing of same-sex couples, with a massive blessing service scheduled for May 10, in direct opposition to Rome’s chief doctrinal office.

Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen said that the priests in his diocese will face no canonical consequence if they decide to bless gay and lesbian couples next month as part of the event called “Love wins, blessing service for lovers.”

However, the website organizing the campaign has no public blessings registered in his diocese to take place on May 10 or “around that date,” as the website reads.

His comments came in an interview with WDR earlier this week, and follow his comments on Easter, when he argued that there are “many blessings for gay couples” in Germany. He also said that the Catholic Church is not supposed to reject gay people but “find ways for homosexuals to be able to live together.”

Overbeck’s stance is in direct opposition to a statement released by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) March 15 with papal approval.

The document, technically an answer to a question posed to the CDF, argues that the Church cannot do so because “God does not bless sin.”

The response caused division both among the faithful and the hierarchy, particularly in Germany, which is currently undergoing a synodal path to try to address the Church’s response to clerical sexual abuse, while at the same time reviewing Church teaching on human sexuality, priestly celibacy and the ban on ordaining women into the priesthood.

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