How German Catholics pushed Church’s slow reforms

— The Catholic Church in Germany is changing to allow gays and divorcees to join its workforce of 800,000. But the reform does not go far enough for everyone.

by Christoph Strack

It’s an issue that affected the head doctor of a Catholic hospital, who was divorced and wanted to remarry; and the director of a church-run kindergarten, who entered into a same-sex partnership.

Both were dismissed by their employer, the Catholic Church in Germany. That sparked outrage among many German Catholics, who felt the church line made it look hard-hearted and at odds with today’s social norms.

Now, after repeated consultations, Catholic bishops in the country have decided to liberalize regulations covering the approximately 800,000 people who work for the Catholic Church in Germany.

“The core area of private life, in particular relationship life and the intimate sphere, remains separate from legal evaluations,” the announcement stated. In other words, what happens in employees’ bedrooms is outside the Church’s remit.

Reforms in the Church have been driven by the churchgoers
Reforms in the Church have been driven by the churchgoers rather than politicians

More liberal labor laws

The two major churches in Germany, Catholic and Protestant, form the country’s second largest employer after the public authorities. Together, they employ about 1.3 million people, and have their own church labor laws.

But why does the Catholic Church have the right to set its own guidelines for employees in the first place? This is set out in Germany’s constitution, the Basic Law, which grants religious and ideological communities extensive self-determination, including in service or labor law. In past decades, none of the major political parties in Germany wanted to restrict or abolish these provisions of the Basic Law.

That makes it noteworthy that the Catholic bishops are now changing important aspects of their labor laws of their own accord. The pressure came from employees and potential employees, for whom the Church had become an unattractive employer.

Above all, pressure grew from the Church’s base in Germany. Last year, Catholic Church workers caused a stir with an initiative entitled #OutInChurch, which earned support from many church organizations, politicians, and other social groups.

Church employees, including the clergy, came out as queer and pushed for recognition. Many risked losing their jobs, which is why some chose to remain anonymous. But the mood was changing. Some bishops also expressed respect for the initiative and announced that they would no longer fire anyone in their diocese because of their sexual orientation.

The Church’s ‘reform engine’

The “synodal path,” an assembly of lay people and bishops still working to confront abuse scandals and bring the Church closer to contemporary society, discussed the topic and made new demands regarding church labor law. Marc Frings, secretary general of the highest Catholic lay body, the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), described the “synodal path” as “the engine of urgently needed reforms.”

Now many in the Church are eager to see how implementation will take place. The Bishops’ Conference can decide on a new labor law, and each individual bishop in the 27 dioceses is responsible for implementing — or ignoring — the rules in his diocese. Experts believe that several more conservative bishops might refrain from implementing it.

Among the dioceses that promptly announced they would stand behind the new labor law were Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s Archdiocese of Cologne and Bishop Stefan Oster’s Diocese of Passau. Other dioceses, such as Regensburg and Augsburg in Bavaria, have been more reticent.

‘Discrimination remains’

Not everyone has joined the jubilation over the bishops’ change of heart. Würzburg University Pastor Burkhard Hose, for example, still sees “a lot of room for episcopal arbitrariness.” The new labor law, for example, states that “anti-clerical behavior” can be grounds for dismissal, but it does not specify what this might mean, leaving each bishop to interpret it for himself.

German Anti-discrimination Commissioner Ferda Ataman speaks at Christopher Street Day 2022 Berlin,
German Anti-discrimination Commissioner Ferda Ataman has also been calling for more reforms

Jens Ehebrecht-Zumsande, an employee in the Archdiocese of Hamburg and, along with Hose, one of the initiators of the #OutInChurch campaign, has criticized the fact that the new guidelines are based on a “binary gender model …. according to which there are only women and men.” Trans or non-binary people have not been taken into account, he argued.

The German government’s anti-discrimination commissioner, Ferda Ataman, also weighed in, calling for the abolition of all exemptions, except for the clergy. Only that, she said, would protect people like the doctor or the kindergarten teacher who, even under the new regulation, may be fired if they leave the Church.

In general, the federal government lets the actions of the churches pass with little comment.

For Marc Frings, the new labor law is an encouragement for the laity within the churches. He says it is evident from the new labor law “that change and reform come from below.”

Without the #OutInChurch campaign and “engaged Catholic civil society,” we would not be at the current stage of reform, he argues. “This is how we learn that our actions and discussions can have immediate consequences,” he said.

Further reform issues are awaiting action in March 2023, when a final round of the “synodal path” will address, among other things, the demand for equal rights for men and women in the Church.

Complete Article HERE!

German Catholic Church Changes The Law To Permit Hiring Of LGBTQ People

By Shone Palmer

A new labor law was passed by the Catholic Church in Germany which allows people of the LGBTQ community to work under the church without being discriminated against or fired on the grounds of their sexuality.

The law was passed following a protest conducted last year by the employees of the Church who came out as queer. This new change was part of a greater drive to encourage tolerance and a feeling of oneness inside Catholic institutions.

The church officials also stated that according to the new law anyone can be part of the activities of the church that is ultimately meant to serve people and to exist for the general good in the world. There wouldn’t be any sort of biased behavior in terms of their personal choices unless it doesn’t go against the core values of the gospel itself.

Catholic Church In Germany Changes Policy To Includes LGBTQ Workers

The German Catholic Women’s Community hailed the decision and said that this is one of the most progressive decisions taken by the German Catholic Church which would be remembered throughout history.

The German state labor courts had been always critical of the labor laws of German Catholic Institutions as these didn’t go in agreement with the general labor laws of the country.

In 2011, a German labor court stated that the dismissal of a doctor who worked at a Catholic hospital on the grounds of his remarriage was unlawful.

There was a mass protest in January when around 125 employees of the German Catholic church came out in open with their queer status and raised their concern about living without fear under the catholic institutions in Germany.

There were many employees of the Catholic church like Priests, Religious teachers, and staff of administration who participated in the protest to uphold their identity and freedom.

It garnered a lot of publicity and sparked a massive debate over the stand of the Catholic Church on their hostility towards the LGBTQ community.

Usually, the work contracts of employees would be canceled if they were known to be from the LGBTQ community and the Catholic clergies refrained from blessing same-sex marriages as they considered it to be a “sin”.

The new amendment comes as a big step for the Catholic church and a success story for the LGBTQ community worldwide. The Central Committee of the German Catholics remarked that the decision was “overdue”.

Apart from same-sex relationships, the German Catholic Church was critical of people who remarried after divorce. This was also considered to be an unacceptable behavior and these people also were at risk of losing their jobs anytime.

These orthodox rules at the workplace were highly against the spirit of a democratic society as labor rights were applicable to every individual regardless of their personal lifestyle choices. The people who lived under such scrutiny for a long time had finally come out and expressed their anger and frustration through the protest.

The Conference also added that the amendment is directed at fostering a positive attitude among individuals toward the church and the teachings of the gospel.

Around the world, most catholic institutions are not welcoming of the LGBTQ community. Even in the US, the struggle for LGBTQ rights and social acceptance is still being fought every day.

Even though the situation has become much better compared to the past actions of religious prosecution of the queer communities, it still has a long way to go in terms of policy developments, social laws, and equal opportunities.

This amendment made by the German Catholic church shall be among the forerunners in the march towards queer rights.

Complete Article HERE!

Role of women must be tackled ‘urgently’ in Catholic Church

— Women out of the picture: cardinals and bishops attend the closing Mass of a recent Synod of Bishops.

Cardinals and bishops attend the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment, in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this Oct. 28, 2018, file photo. On Oct. 2, 2022, Pope Francis heard syntheses from the listening phase of the 2023 Synod of Bishops.

by Christopher Lamb

Catholics want the role and vocation of women to be tackled urgently, according to a new report that has come out of the synodal listening process.

The landmark synod report says that Catholics repeatedly express the desire for a more welcoming, inclusive Church that eradicates the misuse of power.

The findings are contained in a 45-page document released by the Holy See’s synod office that summarises the results of the unprecedented listening and dialogue process as part of the global synod.

“Women remain the majority of those who attend liturgy and participate in activities, men a minority; yet most decision-making and governance roles are held by men,” the report states.

“From all continents comes an appeal for Catholic women to be valued first and foremost as baptised and equal members of the People of God. There is almost unanimous affirmation that women love the Church deeply, but many feel sadness because their lives are often not well understood, and their contributions and charisms not always valued,” the document states.

The role and vocation of women are described as a “critical and urgent area”, with the document calling for further discernment is needed on how to include women in governance roles, the possibility of preaching and the female diaconate.

On the ordination of women to the priesthood, which Francis, following John Paul II, has ruled out, the report says a diversity of opinion was expressed, with some in favour and others considering it closed. Where there is a consensus, however, on the need to value the contribution of women to the Church.

The report cites a submission from the International Union of Superiors General, the body representing female religious sisters, which said “sexism in decision-making and Church language is prevalent in the Church” and that women religious were sometimes undervalued or viewed as “cheap labour”.

Just over twelve months ago, Pope Francis launched the first part of the synod for “a synodal Church” that took place in Catholic communities worldwide and was the largest consultation exercise to have been conducted in human history. The document, published on Thursday, 27 October, offers a snapshot into the views of ordinary Catholics and provides a framework for the next phase of the synod process. It reflects back what has been said so far while the text will be discussed in forthcoming “continental assemblies” in early 2023.

Titled the “Working Document for the Continental Stage” of the synod, it is an unusual text as it does not offer any rulings on contested topics inside the Church, nor does it have teaching authority. Instead, it is a theological document aimed at furthering the synod process as it expresses a “listening to the voice of the Spirit” through the People of God. It was drawn up by a group of around 30 theologians, lay workers and bishops who met for several days in Frascati, near Rome, in September to synthesise reports from 112 bishops’ conferences, different religious orders and around 150 lay groups.  In the United States, 700,000 Catholics participated in the local synod listening exercises; in Spain, it was around 200,000; in France, 150,000; in England and Wales, 30,000. The numbers are without any obvious precedent in a Catholic context.

Taking a passage from Isaiah, “Enlarge the Space of your Tent”, the new document uses the biblical image of a tent for the Church as the guiding image for its core reflections.

“This is how many reports envision the Church: an expansive, but not homogeneous dwelling, capable of sheltering all, but open, letting in and out,” the report says.

The tent is held together by its pegs, “the fundamentals of faith that do not change but can be moved and planted in ever new ground,” while the tent’s structure “must keep in balance the different forces and tensions to which it is subjected.” Finally, “enlarging the tent requires welcoming others into it, making room for their diversity,” and is about “moving toward embracing the Father and all of humanity.” This “big tent” approach includes everyone and is prepared to change its attitudes and structures. The report references a range of groups that feel excluded, such as “remarried divorcees, single parents, people living in a polygamous marriage, LGBTQ people.”

One of the barriers to a more synodal Church is clericalism, a phenomenon which sees power concentrated in the hands of an elite group – lay or ordained. Catholics, the synod document says, “signal the importance of ridding the Church of clericalism so that all its members, including priests and laity, can fulfil a common mission.” As a remedy to clericalism, the reports “express a deep and energetic desire for renewed forms of leadership – priestly, episcopal, religious and lay – that are relational and collaborative, and forms of authority capable of generating solidarity and co-responsibility.”

The report also suggests the synod faces a major hurdle in getting members of the church hierarchy to engage in the process. The “fears and resistance” of the clergy to the synod were frequently cited by the reports sent to Rome, while some of the “least evident voices” in the synod process were bishops and priests. The synod has faced no shortage of challenges, including a failure to organise gatherings in some places, a “meagre presence of the voice of young people”, and those who rejected the process altogether.

But taking the steps to a more synodal church is still in its infancy. Francis, who will be 86 in December, recently extended the process to ensure it continues until October 2024 so as not to rush the exercise. The latest document strongly focuses on the process of becoming synodal, where listening and collective discernment become part of church culture and structures. The report says the key challenge is finding ways for bishops, priests and laity to jointly take responsibility for the mission of the Church but in their own distinct ways. Many local churches call for decision-making in the Church to be taken based on “processes of communal discernment” which include the lay and ordained working together. The report describes pastoral councils as “indispensable” while greater transparency, particularly in light of the abuse crisis, is seen as a pre-requisite for a more synodal Church.

“Careful and painful reflection on the legacy of abuse has led many synod groups to call for a cultural change in the Church with a view to greater transparency, accountability and co-responsibility,” it states.

“All Church institutions, as fully participatory bodies, are called to consider how they might integrate the call to synodality into the ways in which they exercise their functions and their mission, renewing their structures and procedures.”

Furthermore, there are calls for a stronger emphasis in the Church on ecumenical and inter-faith engagement with a “more united witness among Christians and between faith communities” described as “an ardent desire.” It is all part of the call for a more outward-looking, missionary Church.

The synod experience is described as “novelty and freshness”, with many in the Church saying that this was the first time they had been asked for an opinion. At the same time, theologians have repeatedly pointed out that synodal processes are rooted in scripture and tradition and are an attempt to rediscover something from Catholic tradition. The document explains that moving towards a synodal church is likened to family members reuniting after a period apart.

“One could say that the synodal journey marked the first steps of the return from an experience of collective exile, the consequences of which affect the entire People of God: if the Church is not synodal, no one can really feel fully at home,” the report says.

The liturgy is also cited as a key concern. Many Catholics want a more participatory form of worship while “a particular source of suffering are those situations in which access to the Eucharist and to the other Sacraments is hindered or prevented.” The quality of homilies during Mass is “is almost unanimously reported as a problem”, while the way celebrations take place risks making the congregation passive observers in what is taking place. A desire is expressed for greater “diversity in forms of prayer and celebration”, which makes worship more accessible.

When it comes to the Old Rite of the Mass, the document cites “knots of conflict” which need to be “addressed in a synodal manner” and that a number in the Church still feel ill at ease “following the liturgical developments” which came after the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council. Last year, the Pope restricted the use of the pre-Vatican II liturgy in a move that upset liturgical traditionalists. The synod document quotes the report from the United States, which says the restrictions on the Old Rite were “lamented” and that “people on each side of the issue reported feeling judged by those who differ from them.”

The next stage of the synod process will take place in a series of assemblies in various continents from January to March 2023, which must include representatives from the whole Church. The European assembly will take place in the Czech Republic on 5-12 February 2023, while the African gathering will occur in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 1-7 March 2023. The Central and Latin American Church is planning five different events in El Salvador (13-17 February 2023), the Dominican Republic (20-24 February 2023), Ecuador (27 February – 3 March 2023) and Brazil (6-10 March 2023).

But before these take place, every diocesan bishop is to “arrange an ecclesial process of discernment” on the new document, which will then be submitted to individual bishops’ conferences. The conferences will then submit a report to each continental assembly, which needs to draft a document of “a maximum of about twenty pages.” These documents must be sent to the Holy See’s synod office and form the working document for a summit of bishops from 4-29 October 2023.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic priest in Italy suspended for pro-LGBTQ stance

‘We have blessed anything, including weapons and wars in the past. And we don’t want to bless real love?’ asked the Rev. Giulio Mignani.


An Italian priest, well known in the country for his support toward LGBTQ couples, abortion and euthanasia, was suspended by the Catholic Church on Monday (Oct. 3) for “holding positions that are not aligned with Church teaching.”

The Rev. Giulio Mignani, 52, a parish priest in a small Southern Italian town, has been barred by his bishop from celebrating Mass and the sacraments after vocally advocating for the welcoming of LGBTQ individuals in the church.

“The Church doesn’t condemn homosexuality but homosexual relations. Which is like saying that it’s ok to be hungry, but you can’t eat,” Mignani told Vanity Fair Italy in an article published on Wednesday.

“I mean it’s a paradigm that must be changed,” he continued. “Homosexual love is still considered a sin, a mistake, when it’s a fundamental aspect in the life of these people.”

Bishop Luigi Ernesto Palletti first reprimanded the priest in 2021, when Mignani refused to bless the palms on Palm Sunday after an announcement by the Vatican doctrinal department banning the blessing of LGBTQ couples.

Some priests in Germany began blessing LGBTQ couples in 2021 as the Catholic community in the country underwent the Synodal Path, a consultation of clergy and faithful on important topics. The Vatican’s department for the Doctrine of the Faith answered by stating that the church “cannot bless sin.”

“I said to myself: we have blessed anything, including weapons and wars in the past. And we don’t want to bless real love?” Mignani said.

The priest also appeared in local newspapers and media channels in support of an anti-LGBTQ discrimination bill named after its proponent, the left-wing politician Alessandro Zan. The Italian bishops’ conference opposed the bill, which was never approved by the Senate.

Mignani has also spoken in favor of abortion and euthanasia, both condemned by the church, and claimed Catholic doctrine is dated and out of touch with society. “To quote a parable of Jesus, today we don’t have one lost sheep and the other 99 in the pen, but the opposite,” he said in the interview.

Mignani said he doubts he will change his views after the period of reflection mandated by his bishop. He said he would like to continue being a priest and that he draws hope from the show of support he has received from faithful and clergy members.

“But most people don’t say it, because if they spoke up, they would be suspended like me,” the priest said. “But sometimes you have to take a stand in front of everyone, to give a new direction.”

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic church abuse victims demand list of accused

“San Francisco is one of those places. It’s one of the most important, oldest dioceses in the whole United States. It’s an archdiocese. It’s the seat of power for the western United States. And everywhere else within this within this region, lists have been published. But the archbishop of San Francisco will not publish a list. And so we think it’s really important to get this list out, to get it published, to update it, to provide information to victims and their families. We find that whenever we publish a list, we get phone calls from victims who didn’t know that they were not the only one. And it provides them with a level of comfort and in some cases helps them decide to come forward and get help.”

Salvatore Cordileone, center

Advocates for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have released a list of more than 300 accused abusers associated with the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests delivered its list of 312 names Thursday along with a letter to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone urging him to release his own internal list of credibly accused priests.

The archdiocese is one of only 15 in the U.S, less than 10 percent of all dioceses, that has not publicly listed abusive priests.

The archdiocese says it has a policy to report sexual abuse allegations to authorities, an independent review board and parishes.

But the releases of names have varied widely in quality, said Terry McKiernan, president of

Some include the priest’s full assignment histories, photos and other details, while others don’t. And not every diocese provides cross-references for when a priest of one diocese worked in another. “They’re all over the map,” McKiernan said.

As inconsistent as the lists are, they have provided many names not otherwise known publicly, and most dioceses in other countries have not followed suit. “It does not happen elsewhere around the world,” he said.

The first lists were published two decades ago, and often dioceses release lists in response to outside events, such as a criminal investigation, McKiernan said.