Dr. Wunibald Muller © CBA
Dr. Wunibald Muller is a Catholic theologian, author, psychologist and director of the Recollectio House at Munsterschwarzach Abbey. Among other things, he has written a doctoral thesis on the relationship of the Catholic Church toward homosexuals.
A statement with reverberations: the German synod bishops apologize to various groups in society – including homosexuals – for the behavior of the church. The theologian Dr. Wunibald Muller sees this as an important sign.
Interviewer: How do you evaluate this apology of the bishops?
Dr. Wunibald Muller: I think this is wonderful. These are quite new tones. Basically I think it was also high time for it.
Interviewer: What are the consequences? Does this apology have a greater meaning than just nice words?
Dr. Wunibald Muller: I hope there are consequences to this and it doesn't just stop at the nice words. One should also look again at what the deeper reasons are that homosexual people have been harmed. So that it does not remain just fine words, it is important that this is reflected. For example, also in the teaching of the church towards homosexual people. I think it's nice to say that homosexuals are met with mercy and compassion and we ask them to forgive us. But I know very many homosexual people who say that you don't need the pity and mercy. Rather, they need recognition and want to meet us at eye level. They want their lives not to be called a sinful condition. They want to hear us acknowledge their homosexual love and admit that it is a real love.
Interviewer: What does the apology in itself mean for those affected?
Dr. Wunibald Muller: That is different. I think a lot of people will say that it's too late and too cheap for them, and that they don't really believe it either. There are certainly a few who say that a reconciliation process can finally begin. But I think that will only appeal to very few, because too many homosexual people have turned away from the church in the meantime. At this point, one must also concede that to those affected – as it always is at the beginning of a reconciliation process. We have to digest this first. The homosexual people will certainly not say that everything is wonderful and find it nice that they are forgiven. All that has been inflicted on them has not been forgotten. It is, as I said, the beginning of a process that can then go further. But in doing so, you have to give the people affected time.
Interviewer: Do you think that the Synod of Bishops as a whole will be a success for understanding between the grassroots and clergy?
Dr. Wunibald Muller: As far as concrete pastoral care is concerned, it is often the case that pastors meet people in pastoral care accordingly. If this declaration has a certain external effect, it will perhaps also open up people who actually no longer have much to do with the parish a little more toward the church. Under certain circumstances, this can give them access to the church again. Otherwise, I honestly expect little new from the synod, especially as far as homosexuals are concerned. If it remains only with this coating and beautiful words, it is also too little, will fizzle out and in the end will achieve nothing.
Interviewer: It has already become apparent that this statement has hardly found any echo in the media. Is this also a sign that at least in the German public the opinion prevails that the apology is not needed and that as a church one is behind the times anyway??
Dr. Wunibald Muller: I already believe that it will be evaluated in this way. If, then only very few of them are addressed. If the church doesn't move forward here, then it's basically just wastepaper for people and means nothing to them.
The interview was conducted by Dr. Christian Schlegel