LGBTQ Church Workers in Germany Explain Why They Participate in #OutInChurch

Brigitte Vielhaus

LGBTQ church workers in Germany continue to explain their participation in #OutInChurch, an initiative in which 125 such workers publicly came out in a call for non-discrimination. Today’s post features two such workers, as well as other news updates from the German church.

LGBTQ Pastoral Leaders Explain #OutInChurch

Brigitte Vielhaus, managing director of the Catholic Women’s Association of Germany, came out as a partnered lesbian with the full backing of her organization. Katholisch.de reported on her comments as part of that decision (via Google Translate):

“[Vielhaus] called for comprehensive changes to Catholic sexual morality and church employment law. ‘The misanthropic statements of the Roman magisterium must not endure,’ said Vielhaus to ‘Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger’ (Thursday). Among other things, she aimed at the Vatican’s ban on blessing gay and lesbian couples. ‘The church is wrong with this attitude.’

“At the same time, Vielhaus accused the church of a double standard ‘which itself cries out to heaven’. She called it ‘an open secret that many clerics live in relationships – despite priestly celibacy’. The people in the parish communities would have always known that, but ‘kept silent’. It is ‘the same system silence as in the abuse scandal. That must end now,’ says Vielhaus.”

Fr. Bernd Mönkebüscher, the priest who co-organized #OutInChurch and was a leader in the German movement to bless same-gender couples last year, told Katholisch.de the church workers’ initiative was prompted by a similar campaign by German LGBTQ actors in 2021.  The report continued:

“‘Behind each of the people [who signed #OutInChurch] there is an unbelievable story of suffering because they had to and still have to learn against resistance to accept themselves as they are,’ explained Mönkebüscher. Some of the colleagues involved also had thoughts of suicide because of their situation. ‘In terms of labor law, queer people in professions related to evangelization are not allowed to enter into same-sex marriages. They would lose their jobs,’ added the pastor. . .

“The fact that some of them are now publicly professing their sexuality is also influenced by the perception of Pope Francis within the Church. Under Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. that was ‘hardly or not at all possible’. German bishops should now ‘assault the Vatican’ with the demands made by the initiative, explained Mönkebüscher. ‘The church needs to change its sexual morality.'”

In related news, Sven Lehmann, a German member of parliament and the Commissioner for the Acceptance of Sexual and Gender Diversity , endorsed changes to the church’s employment law even while acknowledging there is little the government could do to ensure such change. Lehmann said, per Katholisch.de, “because our constitution protects the right of the churches to organize themselves, the ball is now primarily in the hands of the churches themselves.”

Top Bishop Reaffirms Need for Change in Church Teaching

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, reiterated his support for a re-evaluation of church teaching on sexuality. Vida Nueva Digital reported (via Google Translate):

“[Bätzing] has been in favor of ‘changing part of the catechism’ of the Catholic Church in regard to sexuality, as Katholisch recounts. ‘Sexuality is a gift from God, not a sin’, added the prelate.

“Similarly, he has stressed that if ‘same-sex couples live in fidelity and responsibility,’ this does not affect their relationship with God. And he has set an example: that of the German politician and former Minister of Health Jens Spahn, whom he has defined as ‘a good Catholic.’ Regarding the homosexual employees of the Church, Bätzing has assured that ‘nobody should be afraid of losing their job.’ ‘Your privacy is personal, it’s my business.'”

Bätzing has repeatedly advocated for more LGBTQ inclusion in the church, including support for blessing LGBTQ couples. As head of bhe bishops’ conference, he is a leading figure in Germany’s Synodal Way process, which has been quite affirming of LGBTQ equality.

For Bondings 2.0’s full coverage of #OutInChurch, click here. For more updates on wider LGBTQ developments in the German church, click here.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, March 10, 2022

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