A documentary with 100 interviews with LGBT priests and other Catholic workers helps launch a movement to demand doctrinal changes. Cardinal Reinhard Marx calls to drop mandatory celibacy for priests.
The Roman Catholic Church in Germany could be on the brink of another major crisis. This is what the producers of the documentary “As God created us” said during the press conference. The film presents the stories of 100 committed Roman Catholics who identify as homosexual, lesbian, queer, transgender or non-binary.
The documentary aired on the public broadcaster ARD for all of Germany on 24 January interviewed not only LGBT priests but also youth group leaders, pedagogues, social workers, and other people who serve in local Catholic churches.
“People who do not identify as heterosexuals explain the fight for their Church – sometimes even with the risk of losing their job”, says the description on the broadcaster’s website.
As the film was aired, a movement called “Out in church” was launched as well, with a set of demands to the Catholic leadership in Germany: “We demand a correction of misanthropic doctrinal statements – also in view of worldwide church responsibility for LGBTIQ+ human rights”, the group said in its manifesto translated in over fifteen languages. “And we demand a change of the discriminatory church labour law, including all the degrading and excluding formulations in the church’s regulations for employees”.
The group, in which some people appearing in the documentary are involved, also says the Roman Catholic Church “must express in its rites and celebrations the fact that LGBTIQ+ persons, whether living alone or in relationship, are blessed by God and that their love bears manifold fruits. This includes at least the blessing of same-sex couples who ask for such a blessing”.
Among the first responses of the Catholic Church’s leadership was that of the Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Hesse, who called for a “dialogue”, adding: “In my opinion, a church where people have to hide because of their sexual orientation cannot be in the spirit of Jesus”. His position is not representative of the Roman Catholic leadership in its whole.
A week later, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of München, President of the Commission of Bishop’s Conferences of the European Community, and former head of the German Roman Catholic Church, said he was open to end the celibacy for priests.
“For many priests would it be better they were married”, he said in an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. In words quoted by Pro Medien Magazin, he said celibacy was “the way of life of Jesus” and therefore should not to be laid aside, “but whether one should take that as a basic requirement for every priest, I do put a question mark there. I think it cannot go on as it is now”, he added.
The very influential Roman Catholic theologian also opened the door to the ordination of women priests. “I just know that we need a big consensus. Or you break the whole edifice”.
In the same interview, Marx condemned again the sexual abuse cases that happened under his leadership in Germany, of which a new report has recently given more details.