“We must openly grapple with, for example, the question that some 90 percent of Catholics deal with birth control other than the Church instructs,” Alois Glück, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics, told daily Frankfurter Rundschau.
A “renewal” is necessary following the sex abuse scandal that has rocked almost every diocese in Germany since the first claims surfaced in January, he said, adding that the Church must “openly discuss what it means to deal with sexuality and partnership today.”
The Church must also end mandatory celibacy for priests, the country's highest representative for lay Catholics said.
“We must open the way for a priesthood without celibacy,” he told the paper. “The discussion is in full swing.”
Glück's comments come as nearly of quarter of Germany's 25 million Catholics are considering turning their backs on their Church because of the way it has handled the child abuse scandal.
An April poll of more than 1,000 Catholics by the Forsa Institute published by daily Bild found 23 percent of Church members said they were thinking of leaving.
Even among those who described themselves as devout, 19 percent were considering walking away, the poll found.
At the heart of the anger is the belief that the Church is not handling the child abuse affair openly.
Exactly half said they believed there was a link between celibacy and child abuse, while 44 percent said there was no link.
Yet a massive 81 percent said they believed celibacy for priests should be abolished, compared with just 12 percent who believed it should be maintained.