LGBT Catholic officials stage mass coming-out in Germany

More than 100 Catholic church officials in Germany came out as LGBT, queer or non-binary on Monday, adding to calls for reform within the crisis-hit church.

Priest Bernd Mönkebüscher
Bernd Mönkebüscher, priest and #OutInChurch campaigner, speaks to the media in his church in Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Thissen

Demands for a more liberal attitude to homosexuality within the German church have coincided with uproar over reports of widespread child sex abuse by Catholic clergymen in the country, including allegations of cases where former pope Benedict XVI failed to act.

The 125-strong group, which includes priests and workers in education and administration, published a statement demanding an end to the “discrimination and exclusion” they had experienced.

“I don’t want to hide my sexual identity any more,” Uwe Grau, a priest in the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, was quoted on the group’s website as saying.

“We are part of the church,” added Raphaela Soden, who works in pastoral care for young adults and identifies as queer and non-binary. “We always have been. It’s time to finally make it clear that we exist and how wonderfully queer the body of Christ is.”

The statement called for “free access to all pastoral vocations”, and an end to what the signatories called a “system of concealment, double standards, and dishonesty” surrounding LGBT issues.

READ ALSO: Grieg, Rachmaninoff, and leather jumpsuits: Berlin church holds concert for fetishists

“Entering into a non-heterosexual relationship or marriage must never be considered a breach of loyalty and, consequently, an obstacle to employment or a reason for dismissal,” they said.

The issue of homosexuality has caused a major rift in the Catholic Church between modernisers and conservatives.

Pope Francis is himself ambivalent over the sensitive subject.

OutInChurch campaign

Participants in the #OutInChurch campaign. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/EyeOpeningMedia/rbb | EyeOpeningMedia

‘Ideological project’

The pontiff has stirred controversy with his relatively liberal attitude towards sexual orientation, which is at odds with the beliefs of many conservatives in the church. 

“If a person is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge him?” Francis said soon after he became pope in 2013.

Yet the pope sticks firmly to Catholic teaching that marriage is the union between a man and a woman in order to procreate.

He has repeatedly criticised “gender theory” as an “ideological project” that “denies the natural difference between a man and a woman”.

And last year, the Vatican reaffirmed that homosexuality was “a sin” and confirmed homosexuals were unable to receive the sacrament of marriage.

In Germany, calls for a more liberal attitude to homosexuality have formed a central pillar of appeals for reform in the church.

Catholics remain Germany’s biggest religious community, with 2.2 million members, but church pews are increasingly empty during services.

The crisis has been exacerbated by a string of reports in recent years that have exposed widespread abuse of children by clergymen.

Last week, a damning report on the archdiocese of Munich and Freising found that former pope Benedict XVI knowingly failed to stop four priests accused of child sex abuse in the 1980s.

READ ALSO: German former pope Benedict admits giving ‘incorrect’ info to abuse inquiry

Member comments

  1. The consistent teaching of the Christian faith for 2000 years gas been that marriage is exclusively between a man and a women, and that homosexual acts are sinful.
    If you don’t like it, then don’t be a Christian. Simple as that. No one will force you to stay.

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German parliament to commemorate LGBT victims of Nazis

The German parliament will for the first time next year commemorate victims of the Nazi regime, who were persecuted and killed for their sexual or gender identity, the Bundestag president said Friday.

German parliament to commemorate LGBT victims of Nazis

On January 27, the international Holocaust Remembrance Day, German MPs will put those victims “at the centre of the commemoration ceremony”, Baerbel Bas told German daily Tagesspiegel.

Germany has officially marked Holocaust Remembrance Day every January 27 since 1996 with a solemn ceremony at the Bundestag featuring a speech by a survivor and commemorations across the country.

“Sadly there are no survivors left” for the LGBT victims’ memorial, Bas said, adding that parliamentary authorities were in close discussions with the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD).

Campaigners have worked for years to establish an official parliamentary commemoration of Nazi victims who were persecuted for their sexual or gender identity.

A petition, signed by victims’ organisations, academics, and other civil society figures, was put forward in support of the idea in 2018.

While the former German President Roman Herzog named homosexuals among the victims of the Nazis at the first event in 1996, “these victims have yet to have their own memorial”, said Henny Engels, member of the LSVD board.

The group “welcomed” the Bundestag president’s decision to dedicate the day to victims, who were persecuted and killed for their sexual or gender identity.

“To draw the right lessons from all its different facets, history must be comprehensively kept alive,” Engels said.