Celibacy Yes or No: Even the German Bishops' Conference disagrees on the question. While Passau Bishop Oster emphasized on Saturday that he considers married priests possible, protest is stirring from Aachen from Bishop Dieser.
Passau Bishop Stefan Oster does not rule out changing celibacy rules for Catholic priests. While it is the way of life of Jesus and therefore a great spiritual treasure, for which it is worth fighting, said Oster in an interview with the "Passauer Neue Presse" (Saturday). He also did not want to demotivate the priests who were struggling with the way of life. But "if the vast majority of priests were to say: This is no longer livable in this time and society, then it becomes difficult".
The bishop emphasized that the Catholic Church in Germany could not go it alone on this ie. "But it could become apparent, for example, that Rome is becoming more open on this ie." He also pointed to the upcoming Amazon Synod in October at the Vatican. Oster expects that "viri probati" will also be discussed in the process. These are married "proven men" who have been leading a parish for a long time and could then also be ordained priests.
Model Eastern Churches?
Celibacy is not a dogma, says the bishop. "Unlike sexual morality, there is more room for maneuver there, and the pope has already encouraged asking for new ways here." Referring to the Eastern Churches, where there are celibate priests alongside married ones, Oster said that in the area, mandatory celibate priests would probably disappear. These are then more likely to be found in the monastery.
"The bishop in the Eastern Church is always a celibate, that's where they kept it, that's why it's always a monk."
Bishop Dieser wants to hold on to "celibacy as a way of life
In the view of Aachen Bishop Helmut Dieser, on the other hand, the obligatory celibacy of Catholic priests should remain in place. The "celibacy as a way of life" should be preserved "in any case", said Dieser in an interview with the "Aachener Zeitung/Aachener Nachrichten" (Saturday). Celibacy is "not a negative requirement, not a compulsion". It is a "biblical way of life in following Jesus, a charism".
If "at some point" there are no more priests who want to choose this, "we will have to look for suitable married men," the bishop stressed. "Besides, there are, after all, married Catholic priests – in the Eastern Churches or when a Protestant or Anglican clergyman converts to Catholicism." The latter said that even a homosexual man can promise and live celibacy.
"Sexuality is a positive gift"
Asked if he thought it was right for the Catholic Church to hold to its rejection of artificial contraception, Dieser said, "I can't answer that yes or no. Sexuality is a positive gift that is part of what makes each of us a person. Based on this, we can come to new understandings in individual questions."
The passing on of life by a man and a woman is something very precious and great, said the bishop. This would include "responsible parenthood and thus family planning and thus also conception regulation".
The latter said, "If parents of three children cannot justify a fourth and resort to an artificial method, we must perceive this in a more differentiated way than before. The Catholic Magisterium has not sufficiently perceived the development of moral theology – beyond natural law thinking – in recent years." This is what the bishops would have to do in the synodal process now agreed upon. "I sincerely hope we can make some progress on this."
Taking a new look at homosexuality?
With regard to homosexuality, Dieser said, "Here, too, the position in the catechism develops from natural law and the idea of two complementary sexes passing on life. I do not question this double meaning."According to the previous position of the Catholic Church, this requirement for someone who lives his homosexuality is "so binding that he falls into grave sin".
"I question this position. I would be very happy if the Magisterium would take up what has already been thought about morally and theologically, and we come to a different reception that takes into account the personhood of a homosexual man or woman. That's how I would handle it even now," said Dieser. It is about a distinction in individual cases.
Regional church: blessing of homosexual couples remains a matter of conscience
The Evangelical Church in Wurttemberg does not want to prescribe or generally prohibit church services for the blessing of same-sex couples. With 65 of 90 votes, the Wurttemberg state synod passed a corresponding law in Stuttgart on Saturday with the required two-thirds majority.
This means that up to a quarter of Wurttemberg's Protestant parishes can offer "same-sex couples or couples of which at least one person belongs to neither the male nor the female sex" a blessing service after a civil marriage. At the same time, the preamble states that to say yes or no on this ie, there is "no middle ground balance, but only the possibility of opening up separate paths".
Difference between state and ecclesiastical law
State Bishop Frank Otfried July called the discussion about the law and the law itself "a sign in a polarized community". It could be "lived side by side without questioning the togetherness". The law contains a difference between state and church law, namely a blessing instead of a marriage ceremony and a local order of service instead of a state-church-wide order of service.
Until now, a blessing in a private setting was possible for homosexual couples in the Wurttemberg regional church, but no public service was possible. Of the 20 member churches of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), only the regional church of Schaumburg-Lippe now does not perform blessings. The Protestant Church in Baden, for example, made homosexual couples and heterosexual couples fully equal in 2016 with its "marriage for all" ceremony.