A hundred homosexual German Catholics, some priests or those who work for parishes, denounced this Monday the “discriminatory” policy of the church. That is why they made their ‘out of the closet’ to “no longer hide”. These are 125 priests, professors of theology employed by the church or practicing Catholics, who last Monday revealed their homosexuality on the website “#OutInChurch”.
Neither “sexual orientation or gender identity” nor “participation in a non-heterosexual relationship or marriage” should be “an obstacle to employment or a reason for dismissal”, affirm the faithful in a manifesto published on the web. They all demand “a change in the discriminatory labor code of the Catholic Church”. They also ask for the elimination of the “degrading and exclusive wording” of the regulations.
Their goal is to end a “system of cover-up, double standards, and dishonesty” that they say surrounds the LGBT+ issue in the church. “No one should be disadvantaged because of his sexual identity”. Justice Minister Marco Buschmann reacted. The official stressed that the Church is “one of the largest employers in Germany”.
And it is that the Protestant and Catholic churches employ about 1.3 million people. This makes them the second largest employers behind the civil service, according to the federal website Arbeitsrechte.de.
“We are many more”
“I do not want to hide anymore”, says Uwe Grau, a gay priest from the diocese of Rothenburg-Stuttgart (south), one of dozens who appear in a gallery of photos, some of them anonymous. “I am gay and no one knows it yet. I would like something to change in relations within the church”, says Frank Kribber, 45, a prison chaplain in Lingen (northwest) and ordained a priest in 2004. “Everyone is silent, everyone is looking the other way. side. People are treated with hostility,” he told Bild newspaper. “We are many more and the church does not want to see it”.
Priest Stephan Schwab, 50, also reveals his sexual identity on the website, “because I believe and firmly believe that I do a good job even as a gay priest”. A year ago, he did not hesitate to celebrate a mass for homosexuals in his church in Würzburg.
Monika Schmelter, a former director of a Caritas center, and Marie Kortenbusch, a theology professor employed by the church, hid their relationship for 40 years. This for fear of losing their jobs before coming out this Monday, 2 years after their secret marriage. “I think it is wonderful that I can now speak on behalf of people who are still living in fear”, Kortenbusch was quoted as saying by Bild.
The signatories received Monday the support of the Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Hesse. “A church in which one has to hide because of their sexual orientation cannot, in my opinion, be in the spirit of Jesus”, said the archbishop, a supporter of a change in the “sexual morality and labor law of the church”.
More testimonies from German LGBT+ Catholics serving the church will be broadcast on public television on Monday. This in the framework of a documentary called “How God made us”. The LGBT+ issue is hotly debated in the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis aligns himself with the Catholic tradition on marriage – considered as the union between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation; this while he considers that “God loves each of his children”.
He has also repeatedly criticized “gender theory” as an “ideological project”. And in March 2021 he approved a Vatican memorandum that considers homosexuality a “sin”, confirming the impossibility for homosexual couples to receive the sacrament of marriage. The measures come days after new accusations against the German church in cases of sexual abuse of minors.
An independent report singles out church officials, including former Pope Benedict XVI, for failing to act on abuses committed by priests in the late 1970s and early 1980s.