German Bishop Issues Written Commitment Not to Fire LGBTQ Church Workers

Bishop Franz Jung of Würzburg

A German bishop has issued a written commitment that church workers will not be fired because they are LGBTQ. Today’s post includes this story and other updates from Germany. [Editor’s note: English translations of the news sources in the post are done via Google Translate.]

Bishop Issues Written Commitment on LGBTQ Employment

Bishop Franz Jung of Würzburg issued his declaration in the wake of the #OutInChurch initiative and the Synodal Way’s third assembly last week, both of which saw advances for LGBTQ church workers. Bayerischer Rundfunk reported further:

“In a personal commitment, Jung assured that employees do not have to fear any consequences with regard to their sexual orientation. The wording of the declaration states that he guarantees not to take any labor or disciplinary measures ‘if facts become known that affect the personal lifestyle with regard to partnerships, sexual orientation or the gender identity of individuals’.

“This also affects employees of the diocesan Caritas Association and all other affiliated legal entities who have committed themselves to the basic order of church service. The decision aims to revise these regulations, explained the Bishop of Würzburg.

“Thus, decisions for a ‘legally regulated or non-banned form of partnership’ should no longer be taken as violations of duties of loyalty and accordingly should no longer prevent employment in church service, explained Jung. Existing employment relationships are not called into question.”

This declaration follows a verbal commitment by the diocese’s vicar general, Jürgen Vorndran, in response to #OutInChurch, which saw 125 LGBTQ church workers publicly come out in Germany in a call for non-discrimination. The bishop took this further step because implementing Synodal Way’s resolution on labor law reforms to protect LGBTQ employees may take awhile to complete.

More Church Leaders Publicly Support #OutInChurch

The #OutInChurch initiative continues to receive public support from German church leaders. Archbishop Stephan Burger of Freiburg said participants in the initiative would not face sanction and said the church must more greatly respect the lives of LGBTQ people, reported Ten theologians in that archdiocese issued a statement of support with #OutInChurch, as well.

Bishop Ludger Schepers, an auxiliary for the Diocese of Essen who is responsible for the German Bishops’ Conference’s LGBTQ outreach, lauded #OutInChurch. He acknowledged to that he already knew some of the church workers involved and that their testimonies “affected me greatly, but also made me angry at how carelessly they were treated in the church.” Schepers said he would “completely agree” with the workers’ demand that they be able to live openly while working in the church, commenting, “A church in which one has to hide because of one’s sexual orientation cannot, in my opinion, be in the spirit of Jesus.” He also said church teaching on sexuality must be reformed in light of contemporary knowledge.

Martin Wilk, vicar general for the Diocese of Hildesheim, wrote a letter saying LGBTQ church workers would not be discriminated against, reported He explained, “I use all the means at my disposal to promote respectful interaction with one another,” adding, “We need an honest discussion in our diocesan advisory bodies about the basic orientation of our diocese in this area.”

Top Bishop Seeks Reform of Church Teaching

Bishop Helmut Dieser of Aachen reiterated his call for the church to reform its teachings on homosexuality. reported:

“‘I hope that there can and will be different ways in the church, that we will have blessing celebrations for homosexual couples, for example, while they are still unthinkable in other parts of the world church,’ said Diesen in an interview with the ‘Aachener Nachrichten’ (Wednesday). The Pope speaks differently on this subject than his curial authorities. ‘It’s striking how much more constructive and positive Francis speaks about homosexuality.’ . . .

“He underlined the need for reforms, also with a view to the recent coming-out campaign ‘#OutInChurch’ by 125 queer church workers: ‘We finally have to give new answers to the questions about sexual ethics, which are not only imposed on us from outside, but which are in the middle reset in the church.’ With the synodal path, it is now really important to come to new positions – ‘not because of the zeitgeist, but from one’s own insight’.”

Dieser, who co-chairs the Synodal Way’s forum on sexual morality and relationships, said he was “confident” that bishops would approve the process’ documents and send them onward to Rome, where he was less sure of a positive outcome.

Regular readers of Bondings 2.0 will note that we can barely keep up reporting on all the positive steps German church leaders and church workers have taken in recent weeks, such as #OutInChurch and the Synodal Way’s LGBTQ resolutions. It is time, too, for the great momentum happening in that country to spill out into the rest of the Catholic Church globally. Stated commitments that LGBTQ church workers will not be fired over their identities or relationships would be a good start.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, February 14, 2022

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