Senior German priest leaves Catholic Church

CNA Staff By CNA Staff

 

Andreas Sturm, the former vicar general of the German Diocese of Speyer. / Bistum Speyer via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).

Speyer, Germany, May 17, 2022 / 08:10 am (CNA).

A senior German priest has announced that he is no longer Catholic, citing his disappointment over a lack of “reforms” in the Church and admitting to having broken his promise of celibacy.

Andreas Sturm, the former vicar general of the Diocese of Speyer in southwestern Germany, made the announcement on May 13, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

Sturm, who is joining Germany’s Old Catholic community, said that he had “lost hope and confidence over the years that the Roman Catholic Church can truly transform itself.”

“At the same time, I experience how much hope is placed in ongoing processes such as the Synodal Way. But I’m no longer in a position to also proclaim and honestly and sincerely share that hope, because I simply don’t have it anymore.”

The former vicar general described the ordination of women to the priesthood, as well as “the abolition of compulsory celibacy, dealing with queer people, co-determination of the laity, blessing ceremonies for homosexuals and overall sexual morality in the Church,” as the most important topics that he believed were not being addressed.

Participants in the German “Synodal Way” have voted in favor of draft texts calling for same-sex blessings and changes to the Catechism on homosexuality, as well as women priests.

Admitting in an interview to having broken the promise of celibacy, Sturm told the local newspaper Mannheimer Morgen that he had long doubted whether the Catholic Church was “a good fit for me,” even in seminary and as a pastor.

“But in the office of vicar general, it was easier for me to ponder these doubts and think about quitting,” said Sturm, who led the Speyer diocese for several months during the prolonged absence of its bishop for health reasons.

In a number of interviews with German newspapers, Sturm said that he was launching a book about his experience. The title of the publication, scheduled for release in June, is “I have to get out of this Church,” with the subtitle “Because I want to remain a human being. A vicar general speaks out.”

According to a press release by the publisher Herder, Sturm said: “For me, there was only ever the Roman Catholic Church and my life in it and with it. In the meantime, I have been asking myself for some time whether I am not also co-dependent. Co-dependent on this Church. This image with co-dependency came to my mind because people write to me over and over again: ‘Because of you, I’m not leaving the Church.’ But do I want to?”

Old Catholics belong to a movement originating primarily in the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, consisting of Catholics who were excommunicated over their refusal to acknowledge papal authority in dogmatic matters following the First Vatican Council. In Old Catholic communities, women can be ordained, remarriage after divorce is possible, and homosexual unions are blessed.

Sturm is not the only prominent German Catholic figure to gravitate to the Old Catholics.

Another notable case is that of Anselm Bilgri, the former prior of the Bavarian abbey of Andechs. The ex-Benedictine monk made headlines in Germany on May 17 over claims that Pope Francis had dismissed him from the clerical state for reportedly conducting Catholic weddings and baptisms, despite having left the Church and joined the Old Catholics in 2020.

Speaking to the German tabloid Bild, Bilgri accused the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising of having “snitched” on him and said that the pope had “punitively dismissed” him from the clergy for “persisting in Church schism.”

Frank Ewerszumrode, a former Dominican friar, joined the Old Catholics several months ago. He previously taught Catholic theology at various colleges and universities. Like Bilgri, Ewerszumrode is openly homosexual, CNA Deutsch reported.

Matthias Ring, who serves as bishop of the Old Catholics in Germany, said in April that there had been a general uptick in interest among German Catholics, according to katholisch.de, a website funded and run by the German bishops’ conference.

There were an estimated 15,500 Old Catholics within the community’s single German diocese in 2017.


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8 Comments

  1. What a blessing. Let’s hope an avalanche of them follow him!
    He should be given credit at least for honesty.

  2. It’s a simple math problem and ironically good news. The Church will reform itself by subtraction rather than addition.

    A reminder of the old story that in the United States when a House member successfully ran for the Senate, and by doing so improved the average IQ of both chambers.

  3. Good riddance. If we are going to have that smaller, more faithful church that Benedict was hoping for, then we are going to have to throw plenty of guys like this out of the saloon. Don’t let the swinging doors whack you on the backside on the way out, “Father”.

  4. This, then, exemplifies the state of the church, at least in Germany, under the bishopric of Frank and henchmen Holler, Bat and Bozo.

  5. Bye. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out. And please, take Marx, Batzing, Kasper and all the other Schismatics with you.

  6. How one wishes that more bishops and priests were as honest as this man, who seems quite openly and unselfconsciously to place his own perceptions and needs before the demands of the Lord.

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