Some Catholic churches raise the rainbow flag as a sign of diversity in response to the Vatican's no to blessings for homosexual couples. But who actually decides whether such a sign may be set?
Interviewer: The Vatican ied a no to blessings of homosexual partnerships. This decision caused a wave of indignation in Germany. Some Catholic churches set a sign of diversity with a rainbow flag on their walls. But who has the sovereign right over the church? Who gets to decide whether or not to hang a rainbow flag?
Antonius Hamers (head of the Catholic office in Dusseldorf): Canon law provides that clerics are responsible for one church at a time to decide that only what is compatible with the dignity of the place is done in those churches and at those churches. In the cathedral church, that's the cathedral chapter; in the parish church, it's the pastor; and in other churches, it's the so-called church rectors.
Interviewer: How much say do parish council and church council have in this??
Hamers: The church council is the representative body of the church in terms of property law. That is, in all property-related matters, the church council plays a major role. The parish council, on the other hand, deals primarily with pastoral ies and is supposed to support the pastor in his pastoral work. In this respect, these two bodies are now not in the true sense the heads of household in a church.
Interviewer: That said, whether or not such a flag can be put up really always depends on the team on the ground?
Hamers: Absolutely. Of course, this should be agreed upon between the committees. The committees should be involved in such a decision in any case. I would take that for granted. Just as with liturgical or other actions, I think it is natural for the pastor to consult with his committees.
Interviewer: How much tact is required of the pastors in order to sound out leeway and also to avoid conflicts??
Hamers: As in all other questions, a great deal of tact is required on the part of priests, because people naturally don't want to be told either one or the other just like that. They want to be involved in decisions. There, I think, any pastor or anyone in charge of a church, any priest, is very well advised, as in all other questions, to discuss this ie with the competent lay people on the ground.
The interview was conducted by Dagmar Peters.