Dozens of Catholic priests and officials have come out as queer and are urging the Catholic Church to change its stance on LGBTQ issues.
Around 125 people — including current and former priests, church administrators, and volunteers — have publicly outed themselves and asked the Roman Catholic Church in Germany to abandon its “outdated statements of church doctrine,” Deutsche Welle reports.
The OutInChurch initiative, which launched on Instagram last week, has launched a Change.org petition celebrating the diversity of its members and offering a number of ways the Catholic Church can modernize its approach to LGBTQ Catholics.
“Our group is diverse. It includes people who in the past have courageously and often single-handedly dared to come out in an ecclesiastical context,” the petition states.
“But it also includes people who have only now decided to take this step and those who cannot or do not want to take this step for various reasons. What unites us is that we have all always been part of the Church and are helping to shape and shape it today.”
The group’s members “no longer want to remain silent,” they wrote.
“We call for a correction of misanthropic doctrinal statements — also in view of the church’s worldwide responsibility for the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people,” they continued. “And we demand a change in the discriminatory ecclesiastical labor law, including all degrading and exclusionary formulations in the basic order of ecclesiastical service.”
The group has outlined seven core demands of the church, including being able to live and work openly as LGBTQ people in the Catholic Church “without fear.”
OutInChurch is calling for LGBTQ people to have access to all fields of activity and occupation in the church without discrimination, and for church employment rules to be changed so that LGBTQ Catholics can live and work openly, including getting married, without fear of dismissal.
Church doctrine should be “revised on the basis of theological and human-scientific findings,” a point that is “of utmost relevance especially in view of worldwide church responsibility for the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons, OutInChurch states.
The group is also calling for the church to stop withholding blessings and sacraments from LGBTQ people and couples — as was recently ordered by a diocese in Michigan, which will withhold sacraments from gay Catholics unless they “repent.”
OutInChurch noted that a church that “invokes Jesus and his message” should also “firmly oppose all forms of discrimination and promote a culture of diversity.”
“In dealing with LGBTIQ+ persons, the Church has caused much suffering throughout its history,” OutInChurch’s seventh demand states.
“We expect the bishops to take responsibility for this on behalf of the Church, to address the institutional history of guilt, and to advocate for the changes we call for.”
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The Catholic Church has increasingly found itself at odds with lay Catholics on LGBTQ issues. Despite initial hope that Pope Francis — who is more liberal in terms of church hierarchy — would soften the Church’s stance on homosexuality, the Vatican continues to attack LGBTQ rights.
Last year, the Vatican said that the Catholic Church would never bless “sinful” same-sex marriages, calling homosexuality a “choice” and describing same-sex unions as going against God’s plans.
In 2019, the Vatican branded transgender people a “confused concept” and said that they “annihilate the concept of nature.” In 2018, Pope Francis condemned same-sex families, saying they shouldn’t be recognized by the Catholic Church, and urged bishops to seek out and prevent gay priesthood applicants from joining the church.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the official mouthpiece of the Catholic Church in the United States, has repeatedly opposed attempts to progress LGBTQ rights or help LGBTQ people.
Last year it was revealed that the conference actively fought against legislation to create a three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline because it included support for LGBTQ people.
The OutInChurch initiative is the latest example of German Catholics rejecting the Vatican’s anti-LGBTQ stances. Last year, more than 100 churches participated in a nationwide protest defying the Vatican’s messaging on same-sex unions.
At the time, German theology professors said that the Vatican’s statement that same-sex relationships were “sinful” was “marked by a paternalistic air of superiority and discriminates against homosexual people and their life plans.”
In response, priests across Germany held services for same-sex couples to have their unions bless in a Catholic church, with many of the churches livestreaming the blessings.
“In view of the refusal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to bless homosexual partnerships, we raise our voices and say: We will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership in the future and bless their relationship,” the priests said in a statement.
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