Jun 30, 2024

Historic Move: Old Catholic Church in Czechia to Allow Same-Sex Ceremonies

From January 1, 2025, the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic will recognize same-sex partnerships with church ceremonies.

As Blesk.cz reports, the Old Catholic Church is the first church in the country to formally declare its intention to officiate same-sex partnerships with legal standing through church ceremonies.

The Synod Council of the Old Catholic Church has already notified state authorities, seeking clarification on the administrative procedures required for these church ceremonies.

The Civil Code Amendment introduces civil partnerships as a permanent union between two people of the same sex, similar to marriage.

“This legislation allows for such partnerships to be concluded with a church ceremony if the church, which holds relevant special rights, decides to do so according to its internal regulations,” stated the Old Catholic Church. In 2022, the church already allowed blessings for couples, including same-sex couples, who could not marry.

Previously, couples had to enter into a civil registered partnership separately from the church ceremony. “There are people in same-sex partnerships in our parishes, and the Church feels the need to care for them pastorally,” said Old Catholic Bishop Pavel Benedikt Stránský.

He noted that this step confirms the permanence and seriousness of such partnerships and aligns with the practices of Western Old Catholic and Anglican churches.

Same-sex couples will gain most of the rights of traditional marriages next year, although certain restrictions, such as adoption, will still apply. This change is part of the Civil Code amendment resulting from compromises in the lower house, with activists continuing to push for marriage equality.

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The Old Catholic Church has officially existed in the Czech Republic since 1877, following the traditions of Saints Cyril and Methodius and the legacy of Jan Hus and Jan Rokycany.

Since 1931, it has also provided pastoral care to Anglican believers in the region after merging with the Anglican Church.

According to the last census, 672 people are members of the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic. The Roman Catholic Church remains the largest in the country, with approximately 741,000 registered members.

An additional 236,000 people identify as Catholic without specifying a particular church.

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