German priest calls homosexuality a sickness

A senior member of the church tasked with training new priests has come under fire for calling homosexuality "the consequence of a failed psychological development".

German priest calls homosexuality a sickness
Photo: DPA

Father Romano Christen, the Director of the Bonn Collegium Albertinum and a part of the Cologne Archdiocese, made the comments to a group of people studying to enter the priesthood, reported RP Online.

Lay representatives of the church have called for the man to be replaced.

The trainer discussed therapies which he said could be conducted to counter homosexuality, although his lecture went on to say that these are not always successful.

The lecture stated that even if romantically expressed, homosexuality came from a “narcissistic search” for masculinity. 

READ: Homosexuality at fault for sex abuse not Catholic Church, says German cardinal 

READ: First gay wedding takes place in Berlin protestant church

READ: Former Catholic theologian says much of the clergy is gay

He also said that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” could not be consecrated into the Vatican. 

‘Ideas from the 1950s and 1960s’

Tim Kurzbach, the lay representative of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cologne, told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper that Christen’s ideas were insulting. 

“Anyone who says and thinks those kinds of things about homosexuals should be discredited from training young priests,” Kurzbach said. 

Stephan Goertz, a Catholic Moral Theologian from Mainz, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that such comments represented the “moral theological and scientific state of the 1950s and 1960s”.

These ideas, Goertz says, are fuelled by “prejudices which are hard to bear for those affected — especially because they are denied to live in humanistic and decent relationships”. 

Part of the framework of becoming a priest?

Christens circulated a statement on Thursday, saying that he did not mean to unduly criticize members of the gay and lesbian community but was merely reflecting Catholic dogma on the topic 

“People with homosexual inclinations deserve respect and must not be degraded,” he said. 

“I try to view that (in homosexual relationships) people have taken on responsibility for each other, have pledged allegiance to each other and are there for each other — even if I myself cannot share such a life plan.”

Instead, the statement reflected the binding and universal ideas of the Catholic Church with regard to the process of becoming a priest. 

Christens cited Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, who stated that homosexuality was a “violation of natural law”, reaffirming the belief of the Catholic Church that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. 

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German bishop says ‘why not?’ to blessing same-sex unions

A German bishop gave a nod to blessing same-sex couples on Friday, following a meeting with Pope Francis who has voiced his opposition to the practice.

German bishop says 'why not?' to blessing same-sex unions
Archive photo shows Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck in Essen in 2019. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roland Weihrauch

“If they (same-sex couples) ask for some blessings, why not?” said Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, in western Germany, responding to questions from journalists at the Vatican.

The bishop, one of the vice presidents of the European Union’s Commission of Bishops’ Conferences (Comece), had been received by the 84-year-old pope along with other members of the delegation.

READ ALSO: ‘Sexuality is a part of life’: German churches bless gay couples in defiance of Vatican

He was asked by reporters to comment on the more than a hundred Catholic churches across Germany who in May held wedding ceremonies open to “all those who love each other”, whether gay, lesbian or heterosexual.

Part of the “Love Wins” grassroots initiative launched by priests, deacons and volunteers, the organised blessing of same-sex couples came in direct defiance of the Vatican.

In March, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican body that defends Church doctrine, issued a note reaffirming that homosexuality is “a sin” and confirming that same-sex couples cannot receive the sacrament of marriage.

“We are a pastoral church for all its members, also for homosexuals,” said Overbeck, 56.

“The Pope is a pastoral pope, he told us that we must do what serves the people, so we do it.”

‘Cannot bless sin’

Overbeck said he was concerned about the dwindling number of priests in theChurch today.

In Essen, he said, about 20-30 priests die each year, yet only about one or two are ordained, a problem that could be solved were the Church to allow married priests.

“There are likely some well educated men, even married, who could do this service,” he said.

The Church considers that marriage is exclusively the union of a man and woman.

Early in his papacy, Pope Francis took an unprecedented welcoming tone towards the LGBT community, making the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” remark about gay people trying to live a Christian life.

But although he has said he approves of civil unions for same-sex couples, he has not gone so far as to give his support to the Church blessing same-sex couples.

The CDF, which was set up in 1542 to hear heresy cases, said in its refusal in March that although same-sex unions might have “positive elements,” they could not be blessed within the church as the union is “not ordered to the creator’s plan.”

While God, it wrote, “never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in this world… he does not and cannot bless sin”.