Catholics in Germany have been leading the global church in pursuing LGBTQ equality, with bishops and lay people alike taking dramatic steps. Given how often there is positive news from the country relevant to this blog, it is hard to keep up with it all! Today’s post features three LGBTQ-related developments from Germany and Switzerland.
Episcopal Conference Election a Positive Step
Germany’s bishops elected Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg as their national conference president–a colleague whose record on LGBTQ issues is quite positive. Bätzing, a noted reformer, succeeds Munich and Friesing’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a close advisor to Pope Francis and a mildly LGBTQ-positive bishop, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Bätzing heads the section of Germany’s Synodal Way process that is focused on sexual morality, where he has argued the church must pay more attention to science in developing its teachings and practices. In opening remarks at the first session of this process, he said the church must “bridge the gap” between people’s realities and its teaching “by widening, opening and changing this teaching.” In 2019, his diocese opened a process to discuss church blessings for same-gender couples. The year before, he defended a Jesuit theologian facing Vatican inquiry over his views on homosexuality among other subjects.
Transgender Abuse Survivor Addresses Synodal Gathering
A transgender Catholic addressed the first general assembly of the Synodal Way held in February. Janosch Roggel, who is from the Archdiocese of Paderborn and part of the Synodal Way’s working group on sexual morality. Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on part of Roggel’s talk (via Google Translate):
“‘Abuse by a priest was the worst for me,’ says Janosch Roggel. ‘I am transsexual. My whole existence seems sinful to the church. Each of us is vulnerable to blackmail. I was grown up and yet not free. You should not ask victims to take part in this event. But we are in the room and listen.’ “
Charges of Homophobia Lead to University Class Suspension
An academic course at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, was suspended after accusations that the lecturer is homophobic. Katholisch.de reported that the Faculty of Theology launched an investigation after the lecturer was accused by an anonymous charge in the University’s student magazine last year. The accusation alleged that in 2017 the lecturer described homosexuality as “sick” and recommended conversion therapy for LGBTQ people. While no discipline followed the investigation, the instructor was not allowed to teach a scheduled course on Christian sexual ethics and was encouraged to focus on other topics.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 4, 2020