Catholic theologians call for end to celibacy for priests

More than 140 Catholic theologians from Germany, Switzerland and Austria called Friday for an end to celibacy as part of sweeping reforms in the wake of a sex scandal that rocked the Church.

Catholic theologians call for end to celibacy for priests
Photo: DPA

In a letter published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily, the group said the Catholic Church in Germany had suffered an “unprecedented crisis” last year and that “2011 must be a year of departure for the Church.”

“The Church needs married priests and women in the ministry,” the group wrote.

They also called for acceptance of same-sex partnerships and divorce, in a radical departure from current Catholic thought.

“The high value that the Church places on marriage and a celibate form of life should not be called into question.

“But this does not demand that we exclude people who live responsibly with love, fidelity and mutual respect in a same-sex partnership or as re-married divorcees,” the group wrote.

The letter marked the strongest internal criticism of the Church in Germany since the Cologne Declaration of 1989 in which more than 200 German-speaking theologians attacked the conservative teachings of then Pope John Paul II, the paper said.

The current pope, Benedict XVI, himself German, also questioned the issue of celibacy when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, the paper recalled.

Ratzinger was part of a group of nine German theologians who in February 1970 wrote a letter to bishops in Germany asking whether the practice was still necessary, the paper wrote, citing archives in Regensburg.

The 83-year-old Benedict is due to visit Germany for his first official visit to his native land on September 22 to 25, 60 years after he was ordained as a priest.

Germany has faced revelations over the past year that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused in institutions throughout the country, all but a handful run by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church in Germany has said it failed to properly investigate claims of abuse and that in some cases there was a cover-up, with offending priests simply moved elsewhere instead of being disciplined and reported to the police.


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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.