Although the patron saint's festival had to be cancelled, a festive service was celebrated on Sunday evening in Erfurt Cathedral on a very small scale. Prof. Dr. Jörg Seiler, the Dean of the Catholic Theological Faculty, was pleased that the decades-old tradition of the festival did not have to be completely interrupted and faculty members were able to meet at least in small numbers. And so, before the service in the cathedral's cloister, the presentation of the sponsorship prize, which is otherwise part of the festival academy, also took place: this time the award went to Michelle Dylong - for her outstanding master's thesis on a topic that is both ecclesiastically and theologically topical, namely "Church blessing for same-sex partnerships? Dogmatic and liturgical-theological perspectives".
Blessings for same-sex partnerships are currently the subject of much public discussion in church and theology. Social upheavals, including legally regulated marriage for same-sex couples, have given the debate in church and theology a new dynamic. In recent years several German bishops have been campaigning for a revision of this doctrine and especially of the corresponding practice of blessing, and want to bring the latter into the church's public sphere. Michelle Dylong has broken new ground with her work, presenting an independent research paper and providing food for thought for further discussion on blessing ceremonies for same-sex partnerships. Homosexuality, says Dylong, is neither an option nor unnatural. It must not be discriminated against by resorting to Bible passages that are unsuitable for this purpose and must be de-tabooed. The theology of blessings must be made strong. Homosexuality must be approached from a theology of partnership. The author argues theologically justified for blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. Her work is an interesting theological contribution to an issue which is currently of concern to the Catholic Church not only in Germany.