A new campaign in Germany has launched today with 122 LGBTQ church workers coming out publicly with a strong call for non-discrimination and inclusion. New Ways Ministry and other Catholic organizations have issued statements of support for this new initiative.
The campaign, #OutInChurch: For a Church Without Fear, issued its manifesto and core demands publicly today, saying:
“It’s us! There has been much talk about us. Now we speak for ourselves.”
The signatories of the campaign include current and former employees, as well as volunteers of Catholic institutions, involved in all aspects of church life, including pastoral ministry, education, and administration. The manifesto claims that most of the signatories have experienced discrimination in the church, and they reject church leaders’ claims against LGBTQ identities and relationships, writing:
“[Church leaders] defame queer love, orientation, gender and sexuality and devalue our personhood.
“Such discrimination is a betrayal of the Gospel and counteracts the Gospel mission of the Church, which is to be ‘a sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of all humanity’.
“In view of this situation, we don’t want to remain silent any longer. We demand a correction of misanthropic doctrinal statements – also in view of worldwide church responsibility for LGBTIQ+ human rights.
And we demand a change of the discriminatory church labor law, including all the degrading and excluding formulations in the church’s regulations for employees.”
The manifesto speaks of the “numerous toxic effects” of forcing LGBTQ people to remain closeted and quiet, feeling shame and sickness. In defiance of claims that being LGBTQ is wrong, the manifesto reads that “LGBTIQ+ persons must have free access to all pastoral vocations.” Beyond employment, the signatories speak to sacramental and spiritual concerns:
“Further, the Church must express in its rites and celebrations the fact that LGBTIQ+ persons, whether living alone or in relationship, are blessed by God and that their love bears manifold fruits. This includes at least the blessing of same-sex couples who ask for such a blessing.”
The reasons for coming out publicly at this point are not only to end discrimination against LGBTQ employees and volunteers, but for greater goods:
“We do this for ourselves and we do this in solidarity with other LGBTIQ+ persons in the Roman Catholic Church who do not, do not yet, or no longer have the strength for this. We do this in solidarity with all people who are subject to stereotyping and marginalization through sexism, ableism, antisemitism, racism and any other form of discrimination.
“But we also do this for the church. For we are convinced that only action in truthfulness and honesty does justice to what the church is supposed to be there for: the proclamation of the joyful and liberating message of Jesus. A church that carries at its core the discrimination and exclusion of sexual and gender minorities must ask itself whether it can appeal to Jesus Christ in support of such a state of affairs. . .
“The fight for equality and against discrimination must not be left to marginalized minorities alone. It concerns everyone.”
The signatories also listed seven core demands about employment and church life. The demands include being able to “live and work openly as LGBTIQ+ persons in the church without fear,” have “access to all fields of activity and occupation in the Church without discrimination,” and implement changes to church employment policies such that people in same-gender relationships are not fired. More broadly, the demands read:
“4. 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. . .
“7. In dealing with LGBTIQ+ persons, the Church has caused much suffering throughout its history. We expect the bishops to take responsibility for this on behalf of the Church, to address the institutional history of guilt, and to advocate for the changes we call for.”
#OutInChurch is also being featured in a documentary. The movement stems from #ActOut, a campaign where LGBTQ actors in Germany came out early last year. For more information about #OutInChurch, click here.
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, issued a statement applauding the LGBTQ church workers and pledging support for their initiative. He said, in part:
“The courage and vulnerability of these brave 122 people remind us of Christians through the church’s history who risked greatly to witness to what they know is the Spirit of God working in their lives. We pray these church workers will not suffer penalties or persecution for the simple act of coming out and speaking from their consciences. We pray that they do not experience a new form of martyrdom by being fired, penalized, or persecuted for witnessing to their faith.”
To read the full statement, click here.
Bondings 2.0 will report on other organizations’ supportive statements in the coming week.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, January 24, 2022