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German Catholic bishops welcome initiative seeking change in Church teaching on sexuality

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

Bishop Helmut Dieser, chairman of the Synodal Way forum on ‘Living in Successful Relationships,’ welcomes the #OutInChurch campaign, Jan. 24, 2022. / Screenshot from Deutsche Bischofskonferenz YouTube channel.

Aachen, Germany, Jan 25, 2022 / 04:15 am (CNA).

German Catholic bishops on Monday welcomed an initiative that is calling for a change in Church teaching on sexuality and gender identity.

The initiative titled “#OutInChurch — For a church without fear,” launched on Jan. 24, appealed for the revision of what it described as “defamatory and outdated” expressions of Catholic doctrine, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

In a seven-point list of demands, the organizers wrote: “Defamatory and outdated statements of Church doctrine on sexuality and gender need to be revised on the basis of theological and human-scientific findings.”

“This is of utmost relevance especially in view of worldwide Church responsibility for the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons.”

The initiative, backed publicly by 125 people including priests, religion teachers, and Church employees, also appealed for blessings and “access to the sacraments” for same-sex couples.

The campaign — launched with a blaze of publicity in Germany, with an accompanying television program — was welcomed on behalf of the bishops’ conference by Bishop Helmut Dieser, chairman of the “Synodal Way” forum on “Living in Successful Relationships.”

The bishop of Aachen, western Germany, told reporters on Jan. 24 that the Synodal Way — a multi-year process bringing together bishops and lay people to discuss power, sexual morality, the priesthood, and the role of women in the Church — was approaching the issues raised by the initiative in “a new way.”

He said: “No one should be discriminated against, or devalued, or criminalized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Because with the Synodal Way, we learn to understand more deeply that sexual orientation and gender identity are part of the person, and we have an image of the human being that tells us that the person is absolutely loved by God, and from this, we approach the topics of sexual orientation, identity, but also sexual fulfillment in a new way with the Synodal Way.”

“And I’m convinced that with the Synodal Way, especially in our forum that deals with these questions, we have the space to respond to these questions in a constructive way, so that precisely what this group that has now shown itself most wants, freedom from fear, is actually achieved.”

Archbishop Stefan Heße of Hamburg, northern Germany, also welcomed the campaign.

He said: “I have respect for the people who confess their sexual orientation in this initiative. A Church in which people have to hide because of their sexual orientation cannot, in my opinion, be in the spirit of Jesus.”

“We are always called to authenticity and transparency before God and, of course, before each other. There must and should be no fear of this.”

He added: “This topic is also being discussed at the Synodal Way of the Catholic Church in Germany. That is where I am participating in the discussion. It should lead to a further development of the Church’s sexual morality and also of the Church’s labor law.”

The initiative is calling for an overhaul of employment laws in the Catholic Church in Germany, the country’s second-largest employer after the state.

“An open life according to one’s sexual orientation and gender identity, even in a partnership or civil marriage, must never be considered a breach of loyalty or a reason for dismissal,” reads one of its demands.

Heße’s comments were echoed by Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, northwest Germany, who said that he appreciated the campaign as “a courageous step by 125 queer employees of the Catholic Church from all over the country.”

He added that the initiative called for a “long overdue debate” on Church labor law.

“Under labor law, the loyalty of Church employees is closely linked to their lifestyle. Individual arrangements are possible, and these are sought sensitively and to the best of our ability in our diocese,” he said.

“But individual solutions always create uncertainties. It is urgently necessary to find reliable solutions for all sides. The Synodal Way reform process is working on this.”

He said that the topic would be discussed at the next meeting of the Synodal Assembly, the Synodal Way’s supreme decision-making body, on Feb. 3-5.

“The basic message of the Church is God’s unconditional love for all people — in their diversity and uniqueness. This must also apply to all relationships, provided they are based on love and mutual respect,” he commented.

Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers of Dresden-Meißen, eastern Germany, said that he was “very grateful” for the “impressive testimonies” gathered by the campaign.

Several German Catholic associations also expressed their support.

Priests and pastoral workers across Germany defied the Vatican in May 2021 by conducting blessing ceremonies attended by same-sex couples.

Organizers held a day of protest in response to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s declaration that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions.

The Vatican statement, issued with the approval of Pope Francis, sparked protests in the German-speaking Catholic world.

Several bishops expressed support for blessings of same-sex couples, while churches displayed LGBT pride flags, and a group of more than 200 theology professors signed a statement criticizing the Vatican.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible.”

“This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

“These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

It adds: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

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    • I know Ramjet, it is big news in many Catholic websites.
      However, this is not in keeping with the agenda put forward by Pope Francis. He has made it clear that the discussions should be about Church structure and how best we could evangelize in today’s world.
      Also remember this: lots of topics might be discussed by different organizations all over the world, including the non-western members of our ever-increasing Church. What is important is what is finally proclaimed by the Pope.
      The article states: “These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” Is this not what the Church teaches?

      • What are you missing here? You quote the article in your final sentence, yet that is not what the German Synodal Way calls for, rather 7 demands are made that the Church “must” change her teaching, that Church Doctrine “need to be revised on the basis of theological and human-scientific findings.” That is inconsistent with your quote “… if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

        Add to that, the “…basis of theological and human-scientific findings” which is rolled out is smoke. There are no theological and scientific findings that support
        adherence to the 7 demands called for by the Synodal drafters.

        Just think about it — the parallel to demands made in the USA these days on the same basis, namely, theological and scientific findings. It is just so much smoke for managers (politician, doctors and law makers) to either dismiss what is Catholic Doctrine or to impose unjust laws.

        • What no one who supports this German “synodal way” that demands the Church change its teaching is, what are the “theological and scientific” findings that it is OK to be LGBQT+ and that the Holy Catholic Church needs to change our/its teaching. Where is the Theological support for this? From Theologians and Religious who TELL us that it is LGBQT+ is “normal and acceptable in todays secular world? What is the scientific support or proof that this is OK? Did God create these people this way so therefore it is our “responsibility” to change the Teaching that the acts of LGBQT+ and their incessant demand that we approve of those acts is “just and God’s will”? If this is OK why not approve of “sexual abuse”, what about infidelity in marriage, what about it is ok for sex anytime with anyone you like? None of the German Synodal way demands are valid nor are they supported by “findings” of any kind; simply stated they are required by the need to “be up to date with a God-less secular society’s requirements.

      • We are tutored: “What is important is what is finally proclaimed by the Pope.” Yes, if all goes well, but the question for some, however, is whether Pope Francis will proclaim anything at all?

        Some questions:

        FIRST, will the Holy Father exercise his option to remain silent as he has with the dubia? Nothing proclaimed and nothing rejected? In a relevant interview (posted somewhere on CWR), Cardinal Grech, General Secretary for the Synod, recently speculated on whether (problematic) results from the continental synods might first have to be recirculated back to their originators? Then what? An unresolved and evolving federation of continental/synodal churches? He also expressed present uncertainty (this is my memory) what to do if matters of doctrine were contested (surely as already with Germany).

        SECOND, would the unresolved packages then remain in play? And might some simply default into the attitude that the “endless process” of synodality IS the end product? A “symphony,” or a possible cacophony of parts? And, would this possible incoherence—-the synodal process itself—-finally posture itself as the needed unanimity for sensus fidei, simply/simplistically because everyone had participated?

        THIRD, does all of the above boil down to the future role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and how this office might fit with the awaited new super-dicastery for Evangelization? Does the lowest common denominator become the new Tradition—-generic Christianity?

        FOURTH, this trajectory…an extrapolation beyond even what Martin Luther had in mind when he affirmed the Creed, surely, but diluted Tradition and the communal sacrifice of the Mass into only a communion within an assembly? Along the way, why are priests—-acting in persona Christi—-neutered into replaceable “presiders,” and now in the synodal process itself, why are bishops—-the successors of the apostles who are accountable for at least the Deposit of Faith—-to function “primarily as facilitators” (the Vademecum)?

        IN SHORT, the infiltrating (!) novelties of the German “synodal way,” How, When, and by Whom will such blood-sucking leaches be peeled off from the Eucharistic and Mystical Body of Christ?

        Synodality: “Communion, Participation, Mission”…Quo vadis? Just askin’…

    • Thank you. Real freedom is Freedom from sin. The Bible is very clear on the subject. Anyways our short life on earth is to Love and Serve God in this life and be happy with Our Lord in the next. We are not here to please ourselves. The Ten Comandments are written in stone, and are commands not suggestions. Nevertheless we are free to choose not change.

  1. The organizers of the dissatisfied church-of-one-sown in Germany cherry-pick one sentence from the Catechism of the Catholic Church relating to prevalence of persons with homosexual tendency. They accept one sentence but denounce the next which asserts the homosexual tendency is ‘OBJECTIVELY DISORDERED.’

    They claim that Christ’s bride defames. Why not leave it? They claim that Christ’s bride is outdated. What age should she be?? Why not join the hordes of heretics, apostates, and schismatics throughout history who’ve who said same? Why is your claim to entitlement special or unique to keep you ‘members’ of Christ’s Mystical Body?
    Do you really believe that staying within the Church while spouting such sin will bring Christ or His family to “know” and “love” you on Judgment Day? Why stay in a Church which gives such offense? Why not create your own personal made-to-order misery-loves-company club?

    If I were Christ and the info in this article appeared in my face, spit would fly.

    • One of Pope Francis’s favourite theologians – Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie Pelletier – at the time of the Synod on the Family said that in our enlightened age we must accept ‘successive fidelities’. In other words serial adultery. Cardinal Marx was there listening to her. I suspect these have now become successful relationships of the successive kind.

  2. We read: “Because with the Synodal Way, we learn to understand more deeply that sexual orientation and gender identity are part of the person…” And, yet, those outside of the synodal-way bubble are less well-groomed in these matters. A partial sampling:

    FIRST, one recent study of two hundred peer-reviewed studies on sexual orientation and gender identity: The conclusion: scientific evidence does not support the popular notion that “gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex” (Mayer/McHugh, The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society, Ethics and Public Policy Center, No. 50, Fall 2016).

    SECOND, research into the human genome:

    THIRD, if you say it often enough (synodally!), then it must be so: A recent study completed at University College London (using MRI technology) strongly implies that a habit of lying tends to suppress the part of the brain (the amygdala) that responds emotionally to a “slippery slope” pattern of small and then larger lies (Garrett/Ariely/ Laxxaro, Nature Neuroscience Journal, October 24, 2016; reported by Erica Goode, New York Times, October 25, 2016).

    FOURTH, just because the pope says “God made you that way,” doesn’t make it so. Instead, there’s this from some layman named St. Thomas More, in a play having more credibility than the script now being acted out in Germany: “Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King’s command make it round? And if it is round, will the King’s command flatten it? No, I will not sign” (Robert Bolt, “A Man [!] for All Seasons”).

    QUESTION: By what pretense is sex first reversed front to back, and then the world turned upside down top-to-bottom, by a handful of imposter bishops? ANSWER: Luther approved the bigamy of Philip of Hesse, and after five centuries this one thingy leadeth to another, and another!

  3. “I demand” that Herr Dieser and Herr Hesse be excommunicated, along with all of the Bishops, priests and laymen involved in the German sexual perversion apostasy.

    “I also demand” that the Vatican City-State renounce all money flowing from all German dioceses.

    Those are my “demands.”

  4. The German Church, barring a few faithful remnants, has become a gangrenous limb of the universal Catholic Church that needs to be amputated to save the body.

    • Absolutely spot on. It is sometimes proper for a man to cut off an offending limb to save his body.

      Pope Pius X had it right in 1910 when he stated in his Apostolic Mandate that “Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them. Whilst He called to Himself in order to comfort them, those who toiled and suffered, it was not to preach to them the jealousy of a chimerical equality. Whilst He lifted up the lowly, it was not to instill in them the sentiment of a dignity independent from, and rebellious against, the duty of obedience. Whilst His heart overflowed with gentleness for the souls of good-will, He could also arm Himself with holy indignation against the profaners of the House of God, against the wretched men who scandalized the little ones, against the authorities who crush the people with the weight of heavy burdens without putting out a hand to lift them. He was as strong as he was gentle. He reproved, threatened, chastised, knowing, and teaching us that fear is the beginning of wisdom, and that it is sometimes proper for a man to cut off an offending limb to save his body. Finally, He did not announce for future society the reign of an ideal happiness from which suffering would be banished; but, by His lessons and by His example, He traced the path of the happiness which is possible on earth and of the perfect happiness in heaven: the royal way of the Cross.”

  5. A moral posture in Germany’s Synodal Way, and in Germany reflects similar Vatican developments that likely account for Pope Francis’ silence. This is the increasing acceptance of [stable] adult homosexual relationships. It may also account for a diminished CDR within Curial structure eminence now placed with Propaganda Fides. As well as: The appointment as prefect Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle who is empathetic to such relationships. The appointment by Francis to executive positions of personnel with similar leanings Fr James Martin appointed to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications.
    Origins for this development can be traced to Persona Humana 1975. “A distinction is drawn [with] homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable. People [who] conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage. These homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence” (Persona VIII).
    Although corrections were made since insofar as treating adult homosexuality as a [moral] disorder the question under apparent revision is whether it is a disorder and not a behavior inherent to the person. It is in this writer’s estimate the moral Rubicon of the day. Crossing this long held impasse would subject all moral doctrine to modification determined not by the tradition rather by the current acceptability.

    • That’s already been done. I refer you to the Protestant Reformation and the tens of thousands of Christian denominations that have sprouted from it’s root. They want to drag the Catholic Church down that same path.

  6. A telling postscript to my comment is what’s happening in our seminaries, “With a rise in social acceptance of gender-reassignment procedures, some U.S. seminaries have already been forced to deal with applicants who identify as men but are biologically women — and bishops and seminary formators have been warned to prepare for a potential increase in the number of such cases” (Ann Schneible NatCR). Will Francis intervene and declare our sovereignty as a Church or will he be silent?

    • If Francis is as Francis has done, our questions need no asking. O woe are we of little listening ears of hearts of little love, left to reign in rigid rules and rituals and rubrics and liturgies and mouthing of pieties and casuistries like vipers and bones of whitewashed sepulchral Pharisees. There is no room on the road, the newly reformed, remade, revised, re-paved broad swath of a path. The invited include Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, pagans, secularists, atheists, agnostics, apostates, sinners against God and nature, and vaccinated abortifacts. We arrived sans wedding garment.

      What’s bound on earth is bound in heaven; a certain set of keys have SPOKEN, and we have LISTENED.

      Thank God for His salvation outside which all else means nothing.

  7. I’m a simple man. Genesis said that God created man and woman. That’s it…two…binary…genders/sexes/human forms or whatever you want to call it. When God saw that Adam needed a mate/partner…he didn’t say, “Adam…meet Bob.” He pulled out a rib out of Adam and crafted Eve, a woman. The Catholic Church in Germany specifically and Europe in general (as well as America) is essentially lost. Don’t forget that it was a German (Luther) who begat the “reformation” which now has how many ten’s of thousands of Christian denominations? Don’t forget that it was Germany who begat Pope (emeritus) Benedict XVI. The last Pope to abdicate was Pope Gregory XII who, ironically, abdicated in 1415 to resolve the Western schism with the Antipope in Avignon, Benedict XIII. What did Pope Benedict XVI’s abdication resolve?

  8. We hear a lot about the Pharisees. Especially the story of the Pharisee and the publican. As I recall the Pharisee was the proud one and the publican was humbly asking for mercy and was not trying to whitewash his sins. In the modern world who has created pride movements, and expected the Church to embrace and fly pride banners/flags celebrating their lifestyle? Many of today’s sinners have the pride of the Pharisee and the lifestyle of the publican. The Good Thief on the Cross was very public about owning up to what he had done and publicly defended Christ. In the modern Church one wonders how many kindred spirits the Good Thief would find. Would he die of loneliness?

  9. “The basic message of the Church is God’s unconditional love for all people — in their diversity and uniqueness. This must also apply to all relationships, provided they are based on love and mutual respect,” he commented.

    This is partly true because we are asked to love the sinner but not the sin. Yes, it is people we love and not necessarily their deeds. In fact, if their deeds are sinful then they need to be rejected.
    So, respecting relationships also must be in keeping with this call from our Lord. If a relationship is unnatural or sinful, it is not to be “loved”.
    So, the last sentence in this Bishop’s quote should really read: “This must also apply to all relationships, provided they are based on love and mutual respect and God’s eternal natural law embedded in humans”.

  10. Thank you. Real freedom is Freedom from sin. The Bible is very clear on the subject. Anyways our short life on earth is to Love and Serve God in this life and be happy with Our Lord in the next. We are not here to please ourselves. The Ten Comandments are written in stone, and are commands not suggestions. Nevertheless we are free to choose not change.

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