German Bishop Argues Church Must Understand Homosexuality as “God’s Will”

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In a recent interview, a German bishop has said that church teaching on sexuality for LGBTQ+ people needs to be reviewed, and that a gay orientation is “God’s will.”

Speaking to Deutsche Welle in advance of the German bishops’ meetings at the Vatican in November, Bishop Helmut Dieser of Aachen said that church teaching “does not do justice to certain realities in the area of ​​human sexuality.” He stated that the church cannot just tell LGBTQ+ people that their “feelings are unnatural.” Rather, he believes that homosexuality is “God’s will” and the church must make more of an effort to understand sexual diversity. He explained:

“Science shows that homosexuality is not a breakdown, not a disease, not an expression of a deficit, and incidentally not a consequence of original sin either. Then I have to say: The world is colorful and creation is diverse. And then I can also accept a diversity in the area of ​​sexuality that is wanted by God and does not violate the will of the Creator.”

These comments came in the midst of an interview on church reform and the Synodal Way. While some in Germany are skeptical change in the church, Dieser believes that the church must evaluate its harmful history in order to do better in the future. He states:

“The Synodal Way is a consequence of the uncovering of the abuse scandals. And robust scientific studies show that these scandals have systemic causes in the church. Then came questions that have been calling for answers for a long time. This applies, for example, to the evaluation of human sexuality. Contemporary answers are overdue.”

Dieser, as co-chair of the Synodal Way’s forum on sexual morality, helped prepare several documents for the process’ last assembly this fall. One document, which was approved, called for the church to no longer consider same-gender sexual acts a sin. Another document with a broader call for reform in gender and sexual ethics failed, however, because than one-third of the bishops present refused to approve it. 

This interview is not the first time Dieser has issued a call for reform, as he did earlier this year. He also welcomed the #OutInChurch movement of German LGBTQ+ church workers, and supports blessing same-gender couples. In the interview, Dieser said he wanted to discuss such ideas with Pope Francis, explaining:

“Our synodal path is about spiritual discernment. Francis himself has repeatedly taught and encouraged us to make this distinction. This includes trusting in the Spirit of God to guide us all. It is also a learning. That takes courage. [Synod participants] also need courage to, as Pope Francis says, to decide, to vote. I would like to make him understand that I want to do everything he proposes to us. And I hope that he listens to us carefully.”

Although Dieser is now a prominent LGBTQ+ ally, he acknowledged that his perspective on homosexuality has changed over time. For him, it has been a process of learning and reevaluating new ideas:

“I have long believed that homosexuality is a limitation of male or female identity. I have often thought so. But especially with young people, I felt how unacceptable that was. That kept me busy. And I have learned that such perspectives are not theologically compelling.”

When asked why he thinks so many Catholics are against homosexuality, Dieser suspected that fear plays a role. People may be scared to have to “rethink, to recognize life and realities and not just condemn them.” Homosexuality is often seen as a decline in traditional Catholic values, but Dieser argues that including lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals in the church is essential in exemplifying the Catholic values of love and acceptance. He hopes to speak with Pope Francis on why Catholics believe homosexuality is a “break” from tradition:

“I would also like to reflect on this with Francis: is this really a rupture? Or is there a development of the teaching that then of course also has milestones where a different way of thinking appears and brings the truth of Christ to bear more deeply?”

In terms of practical steps that the church could take to support LGBTQ+ individuals, Dieser argued that priests should reevaluate their use of power, and suggested:

“Of course, a priest needs creative power. But he always has to want to involve people, bring them in and induce their participation. In church we say that he must let the charisms of others become effective for the whole. To put that in a different light: He has to make sure that everyone gets their horsepower on the road. And at the same time bear witness to the message of Christ in secular society. That must be our understanding of leadership.”

In addition, Dieser argues that the church should take steps to bless and accompany the LGBTQ+ community. Pastoral care could be beneficial in affirming queer Catholics and reminding them that “God loves you the way you are, and you are accepted the way you are now.”

As Dieser continues to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, it is important that other religious leaders continue to discern, question, and reflect on the “traditional” beliefs of the church and how they can be adapted to modern day society. For Dieser, being openminded and unconditional love are necessary for spreading the message of Christ. When asked what he would say to two lesbian women who want their bishop to baptize their child, Dieser stated:

“First of all, I would be happy that the child was born. Second, that the two want to have the child baptized. Third, I would consider with them: How can you ensure that your child learns and grows in the faith? And fourth, I would baptize the child. What’s the problem, I ask. What’s the problem now?”

With this response, Dieser exemplifies the love and acceptance that the LGBTQ+ community needs to feel included within Catholic spaces.

Sarah Cassidy (she/her), New Ways Ministry, December 20, 2022

4 replies
  1. Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy
    Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy says:

    it amazes me that so little attention is paid to Jesus’s references to Sodom in Luke 10.12 and Matthew 10.15 and 11.23. It seems clear that, for Jesus, Sodom’s sin is being inhospitable to new people and (by extension) new ideas — nothing to do with sex at all!

  2. K.J. GEORGE
    K.J. GEORGE says:

    All right-thinking people must acknowledge and congratulate the German Bishop for saying what he said about homosexuality. As he said it is not against God, it is His Will. We must accept it as a truth. The Church must be revisiting all its teaching made hundreds or thousands of years ago. It is 2023. The Church needs to keep the faithful in its fold, not do anything to drive them out of its fold. With the childlike adamant refusal to change the teachings,
    the faithful will go one by one first and then En masse. The Church must insure that it will not happen that way.

  3. Thomas Bower
    Thomas Bower says:

    I applaud the German bishop for most of his stances, but I challenge his stance on baptism questions. I was baptized more than 70 years ago and am happy/proud for that blessing. I know of a number of couples mostly under 40 who have balked on saying that they will raise their child in the Church usually because of some of the conservative stances of the Church which they consider wrong and the child has been denied that most important of states of grace.

    The importance of Baptism is the welcoming of one’s soul into the Church, not having others answering a requirement statement about the future over which one has no control. Christ put no requirements to be a follower of His. If the Church is such an important teacher shouldn’t its example be sufficient early or late in life? All I see is that because of bureaucratic rigidness some of my relatives start life seeing the Church as an unloving mother. I have been troubled by many of the Church’s statements, but got over them because I am patient. I had a chance that others today will not. For decades I recall how urgent it was to be Baptized as soon as possible after birth or just before death, but now it is like joining a restrictive club certainly not a Christ like model. We and the hierarchy particularly should have Faith in the Church’s basic goodness.


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