“Catholic church must change view”

Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen demands that the Catholic Church change its view of homosexuality: "One thing is certain: every person can enter into extremely respectful and loving interpersonal relationships."

This is what he writes in a guest commentary for the "Herder Korrespondenz" (February ie). "To exclude certain groups from it is an expression of a prejudice that is difficult for those affected to bear and ultimately contributes to their discrimination or even criminalization."

Against stigmatization of homosexual priests

With his demand Overbeck turns above all against the stigmatization of homosexual priests in the course of the abuse scandal in the Catholic church. "Neither a person's heterosexual nor homosexual orientation as such can and must be considered a cause of sexual abuse," Overbeck writes in the article.

It would therefore be downright absurd to claim that the problem of sexual abuse could be solved by restricting access to the priesthood only to heterosexual men.

Such a demand would feed the dangerous illusion of having a panacea for solving "such a complex problem" as sexual abuse. Many conversations with individual victims in the past years had made him thoughtful and touched him.

The Bishop of Essen also advocates not to insist on biblical prejudices against homosexuals. One must resist the "fundamentalist temptation" of supposedly simple answers. At the same time, the "sensitive ie" of the ecclesiastical status of same-sex relationships is excluded from the debate on Catholic sexual morality.

Subject to theological disputes

Homosexuality is again and again the subject of theological disputes in the Catholic Church. The pope has spoken out in different ways in the past. In 2016, Pope Francis had spoken out in favor of recognizing homosexual lifestyles in his writing "Amoris laetitia" (the joy of love).

In December 2018, however, he had called homosexuality a fad and talked about giving psychiatric treatment to children with homosexual tendencies. However, he later put this statement into perspective.

Last fall, pro-gay remarks by Jesuit priest Ansgar Wucherpfenning caused the Vatican to initially refuse to approve his reappointment as head of the Philosophical-Theological University of St. George in Frankfurt am Main.

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Christina Cherry
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