• Germany's news in English
 
Priest asks Pope to waive his celibacy vow
Priest Stefan Hartmann had kept his daughter secret for almost 25 years to protect his career in the church. Photo: DPA

Priest asks Pope to waive his celibacy vow

Alex Evans · 29 Apr 2014, 08:00

Published: 29 Apr 2014 08:00 GMT+02:00

Stefan Hartmann's letter to the Vatican, which he posted on his Facebook page, requested release from the traditional oath "in acknowledgement of my weaknesses and failures, with all due humility and after long consideration of my conscience and personal situation".

The 59-year-old, whose parish is in Oberhaid in north Bavaria, claims superiors recommended he rescind his own ordination after he revealed on a TV talkshow in January he had secretly fathered a daughter in 1989, eight years after vowing celibacy at Trier cathedral.

But Hartmann wants to remain and leave the oath behind.

"I still feel it is my calling to be a Catholic priest, a pastor and a theologian," he said in the letter.

In a foreword to the open letter, Hartmann said a positive response from Pope Francis, setting a precedent for Catholic priests to remain ordained outside of celibacy vows, would "bring solutions and relief in many cases”.

"There is a human right to partnership, marriage and parenthood, even if you can forego it willingly for religious reasons,” he wrote.

He added it could boost faltering numbers of young Catholics training for ordination, along with allowing back into the priesthood many ministers who had been forced to make a "painful exit" from the Church under similar circumstances to his.

Hartmann said he had been unable to stay in a relationship with the mother of his child and had kept the affair a secret to protect his career.

"After that I tried to walk the road of celibacy again, but since 2007 I have realized more and more that I am just not up to it," he said.

"I have known for some years now that the oath I took after just two and a half years of seminary training was too rushed, and did not reflect the constitution of my character."

Hartmann said, although he has no marriage plans as yet, the request was "above all to allow me to go into a marital partnership into which my daughter can be integrated as part of a family".

The Catholic leadership has as yet made no move to release priests from celibacy, but Vatican expert Andreas Englisch told Austrian paper the Kurier this month the question was among the changes Francis is most likely to make in coming years.

Pope Francis, who replaced Benedict XVI after the latter resigned in February 2013, has a reputation as a progressive church leader.

SEE ALSO: Cardinal offends with Muslim birth rate remark

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Evans (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Migrants crisis
German media and celebs rally for refugees
A welcome party for refugees in Heidenau on Friday. Photo: DPA

German media and celebs rally for refugees

29 minutes ago

Germany may have witnessed violent anti-refugee protests this week -- but the message from the country's media and celebrities is a loud and determined welcome for people fleeing the horrors of war.

Buzz grows over Poland Nazi treasure train
Ksiaz Castle in Poland, around where the treasure is fabled to be. Photo: Drozdp, via Wikimedia Commons

Buzz grows over Poland Nazi treasure train

5 hours ago

Poland's deputy culture minister has claimed to have seen a ground-penetrating radar image of the alleged Nazi train that has set off a gold rush, adding that he is 99 percent sure it exists, while other sources claim the treasure has already been found.

Migrants crisis
Mass pro-refugee rally held in Dresden
Photo: Oliver Killig / Picture Alliance / DPA

Mass pro-refugee rally held in Dresden

8 hours ago

Thousands of people took to the streets of the German city of Dresden on Saturday to welcome refugees, an AFP journalist at the scene said, following a string of violent anti-migrant protests in the region.

Migrant crisis
Austria refugee tragedy suspects appear in court
Screen shot from video by Andi Schiel

Austria refugee tragedy suspects appear in court

1 day ago

Four defendants were to appear in court in Hungary on Saturday over Austria's migrant truck tragedy, as a "horrified and heartbroken" UN chief called for international action to end Europe's refugee crisis.

German court: Ban on refugee demos must stay
Anti-refugee demonstrators carry a sign accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of being a "traitor to the nation" this week in Heidenau. Photo: DPA

German court: Ban on refugee demos must stay

2 days ago

Update: A German court on Friday night reinstated a ban on rallies in an eastern town hit by violent anti-migrant protests, overturning an earlier decision that found the restriction to be "illegal".

Footballers gone wild
Neuer's 'glass palace' angers idyllic village
Tegernsee is a famous beauty sport. Photo: DPA

Neuer's 'glass palace' angers idyllic village

2 days ago

Villagers in the picturesque Bavarian region of Tegernsee are bristling at World Cup-winning Germany goalkeeper and Bayern Munich star Manuel Neuer's plan to build a huge glass villa on the shores of their beautiful lake.

Interview
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Canadian composer and performer Owen Pallett. Photo: Brian Vu

'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'

2 days ago

The Local speaks with Oscar-nominated Canadian musician Owen Pallett about performing at legendary Berlin club Berghain - and just why the world's artists are so fascinated with the German capital.

Germany name squad for crunch Scotland match
Liverpool's Emre can has been called up to the Germany squad to face Scotland and Poland. Photo: DPA

Germany name squad for crunch Scotland match

2 days ago

Liverpool's uncapped defender Emre Can was on Friday called up to the Germany squad for the world champions' forthcoming key Euro 2016 qualifiers against Poland and Scotland.

How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
How will life for Brits in Germany change if the Brexit happens? Photo: DPA

How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears

2 days ago

Greece is the talk of the town this year. But in 2016, it will be Britain questioning its EU membership. The referendum outcome could be life altering for many Brits living in Germany.

Honest senior rewarded for handing in €12,000
An 87-year-old pensioner found the cash in the bin. Photo: DPA

Honest senior rewarded for handing in €12,000

2 days ago

After throwing away €12,000 this week, a landlord in North Rhine-Westfalia thought he'd made one of the most expensive blunders of his life. But the money made it home safely, police said on Friday – and all thanks to an honest pensioner.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Weekend of anti-refugee violence shocks Germany
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,013
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd