As regular Bondings 2.0 readers know well by now, German Catholics continue to lead on LGBTQ equality in the church. Today’s post features several updates from the country.
#OutInChurch Panel Seeks Discussion Beyond Homosexuality
Panelists in a Diocese of Limburg event were insistent that conversations about reform in the church include questions of gender identity and polyamorous relationships. Eric Tilch, a gay church worker, criticized public discourse around LGBTQ issues as focusing “too much on homosexual men” and monogamy. He commented, per the diocesan website’s report (via Google Translate):
“‘I can only feel accepted by the church as a gay man if I’m also accepted with changing partners. . .I worry that the church is attached to a family picture from the 1950s, i.e. father, mother, child. . .There is so much more than that, for example blended families, changing relationships, polyamorous love…'”
Other speakers identified the need for expanded conversations about transgender and intersex people. Petra Weitzel of the German Society for Transidentity and Intersexuality was one such voice:
“Weitzel asked that children and young people who attend Catholic kindergartens and schools be taken seriously if they made it clear early on that what they felt did not match their biological gender [sic]. It must also be clarified that intersex children, i.e. children who are born with both sexes and are initially not assigned to the female or male gender, can still be baptized. . .’Forced operations on intersex children are unambiguously violent and, above all, externally determined interventions,’ Petra Weitzel clarified.”
The Limburg event was organized by Holger Dörnemann, the diocesan LGBTQ liasion, and Hubertus Pantlen, a theologian and chaplain. Bettina Offer, a parishioner in a same-gender marriage, concluded with this comment:
“‘I actually expect my church to grab the rainbow flag and go ahead instead of lagging behind!'”
Paderborn Priests Protest LGBTQ-Negative Book
The council representing priests in the Archdiocese of Paderborn has written a protest letter to Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker. The Tablet reported:
“Last Christmas Becker sent the more than one thousand priests in his archdiocese a book by emeritus Curia Cardinal Paul Cordes on the 60th anniversary of his priesthood. It now turns out that in one chapter Cordes says that homosexuality is ‘profoundly against God’s will’.
“Enclosed in Cordes’ book was a letter by Archbishop Becker announcing that he had founded a work group to handle ‘queer-sensitive pastoral work’ in the archdiocese.
“The archdiocese explained on 31 March that Cordes, who was from the archdiocese of Paderborn, had dedicated his book to the archdiocese’s priests. ‘Opinions [on homosexuality] differ and these differences must be taken into consideration’, the archdiocesan statement said.”
LGBTQ Catholics Speak Out in New Interviews
Leaders of German Catholics’ LGBTQ efforts have given interviews (in German) continuing their calls for greater inclusion and reforms. Mara Klein, a non-binary delegate in the Synodal Way, spoke about their experiences engaging bishops in dialogue, the decision to back away from church work potentially, and more. That interview is available at Katholisch.de here.
On the same website, organizers of #OutInChurch Fr. Bernd Mönkebüscher and Rainer Teuber spoke about how the campaign was more successful than expected, but still required much work, including formal changes to the labor law so that anti-LGBTQ discrimination against church workers is outlawed. To read their interview, click here.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, April 29, 2022