German priests defy Vatican by blessing same-sex unions

German priests defy the Vatican to bless same-sex couples

Location: Catholic Church St. Johannes, Cologne

as part of a wider initiative called "Liebe Gewinnt" ("Love Wins")

In March the Catholic Church said that priests cannot bless same-sex unions

The move has sparked dissent within the 1.3 billion-member Church

including more than 100 German priests who blessed same-sex couples this week

(SOUNDBITE) (German) RECIPIENT OF BLESSING, ANDREAS HELFRICH, SAYING:"It's very important to me. I was brought up as a Catholic, I live as a Catholic and I also worked as a Catholic. For me, heaven opened up again today because I had felt a bit excluded. I am grateful that the possibility exists and that we were able to receive God's blessing."

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Germany since 2017

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