06/ 6/2012 by ANDREA TORNIELLI, Rome
Archbishop Woelki recently gave a speech on stable same-sex relations at the Katholikentag convention, but a clarification of his statement was later given by his spokesman
Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki, the youngest of the current members of the Sacred College of Cardinals, is at the centre of a controversy over a statement he made on homosexuality.
Fifty five year old Woelki, a bishop since 2003 and archbishop since 2011 was created cardinal by Benedict XVI at the last consistory held in February 2011. In a recent speech at the Katholikentag convention held between 17 and 20 May in Mannheim, he stated:
"I believe we should agree and indeed we do agree on the fact that in judging this type of relation or relationship there is a big difference in judgement when people take responsibility for one another, when engaged in a long-term relationship as couples do in heterosexual relationships."
These words suggested the cardinal was opening up to stable same-sex relationships. But the Archbishop of Berlin's spokesman stated that Woelki's declaration was allegedly too "concise" and explained that the cardinal had not intended to put same-sex unions on a par with marriage.
Readers will recall that the issue recently resurfaced in Austria, when a young man living in a registered partnership with another male was elected to the pastoral council of a small village near Vienna.