German Catholic Bishops Welcome Initiative to Change Church Teaching on Sexuality | National Catholic Register

German Catholic bishops on Monday welcomed a move calling for a change in church teaching on sexuality and gender identity.

The initiative called “#OutInChurch – For a fearless church,” launched on January 24, called for the revision of what he called “defamatory and outdated” expressions of Catholic doctrine, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

In one seven point list of claims, organizers wrote, “Defamatory and outdated statements of Church doctrine on sexuality and gender must be revised on the basis of human theological and scientific findings.

“This is of the utmost importance, especially given the global church’s responsibility for the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people.”

The initiative, publicly supported by 125 people including priests, religious teachers and church workers, also called for blessings and “access to the sacraments” for same-sex couples.

The campaign – launched with great publicity in Germany, accompanied by a television program – was hailed on behalf of the episcopal conference by Mgr Helmut Dieser, president of the “Synodal Way” forum on “Living in Successful Relationships”.

The Bishop of Aachen in western Germany told reporters Jan. 24 that the Synodal Way was addressing the issues raised by the initiative in a “new way.”

He noted: “No one should be discriminated against, devalued or criminalized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Because with the Synodal Path we learn to understand more deeply that sexual orientation and gender identity are part of the person, and we have an image of the human being that tells us that the person is absolutely loved by God, and from there we approach the themes of sexual orientation, identity, but also sexual fulfillment in a new way with the Synodal Way.

“And I am convinced that with the Synodal Path, especially in our forum which deals with these questions, we have the space to answer these questions in a constructive way, so that precisely what this group which has shown itself wants most, freedom from fear, is actually achieved.

Archbishop Stefan Heße of Hamburg in northern Germany also hailed the campaign.

He noted“I have respect for the people who confess their sexual orientation in this initiative. A Church in which people have to hide because of their sexual orientation cannot, in my opinion, be in the spirit of Jesus.

“We are always called to authenticity and transparency before God and, of course, towards each other. There should and should be no fear about it.

He added: “This topic is also being discussed at the Synodal Way of the Catholic Church in Germany. This is where I join in the discussion. This should lead to a further development of the sexual morality of the Church and also of the labor law of the Church.

The initiative calls for an overhaul of employment laws in the Catholic Church in Germany, the country’s second largest employer after the state.

“An open life according to sexual orientation and gender identity, even within the framework of a partnership or a civil marriage, should never be considered as a breach of loyalty or grounds for dismissal”, reads -on in one of its claims.

Bishop Heße’s comments were echoed by Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück in northwestern Germany, who noted that he appreciated the campaign as “a brave step by 125 homosexual employees of the Catholic Church from all over the country”.

He added that the initiative called for a “long overdue debate” on Church labor law.

“In labor law, the loyalty of Church employees is closely linked to their way of life. Individual arrangements are possible, and these are sought with sensitivity and to the best of our abilities in our diocese,” he said.

“But individual solutions always create uncertainty. There is an urgent need to find reliable solutions for all parties. The process of reforming the synodal path is working on this.

He said the subject would be discussed at the next meeting of the Synodal Assembly, the supreme decision-making body of the Synodal Way, from February 3 to 5.

“The fundamental message of the Church is God’s unconditional love for all people — in their diversity and their uniqueness. This must also apply to all relationships, provided they are based on love and mutual respect,” he commented.

Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers of Dresden-Meißen, East Germany, noted that he was “very grateful” for the “impressive testimonies” collected by the campaign.

Several German Catholic associations have also expressed their support.

Priests and pastoral workers across Germany challenged the Vatican in May 2021 by holding blessing ceremonies attended by same-sex couples.

The organizers organized a day of protest in response to the statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions.

The Vatican statement, released with the approval of Pope Francis, sparked protests across the German-speaking Catholic world.

Several bishops have expressed support for same-sex couple blessings, while churches displayed LGBT pride flagsand a group of more than 200 theology professors signed a declaration criticize the vatican.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The number of men and women who have deep homosexual tendencies is not negligible.

“This inclination, objectively disordered, constitutes for the majority of them a test. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Any signs of unjust discrimination against them should be avoided.

“These people are called to accomplish the will of God in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter because of their condition.

He adds: “Homosexual people are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-control which teach them interior freedom, sometimes by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and must gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

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