More than 100 Catholic Church officials in Germany came out as LGBT, queer or non-binary on Monday, adding to calls for reform within the crisis-hit church.
Demands for a more liberal attitude to homosexuality within the German church have coincided with uproar over reports of widespread child sex abuse by Catholic clergymen in the country, including allegations of cases where former pope Benedict XVI failed to act.
The 125-strong group, which includes priests and workers in education and administration, published a statement demanding an end to the “discrimination and exclusion” they had experienced.
“I don’t want to hide my sexual identity anymore,” Uwe Grau, a priest in the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, was quoted on the group’s website as saying.
“We are part of the church,” added Raphaela Soden, who works in pastoral care for young adults and identifies as queer and non-binary. “We always have been. It’s time to finally make it clear that we exist and how wonderfully queer the body of Christ is.”
The statement called for “free access to all pastoral vocations”, and an end to what the signatories called a “system of concealment, double standards, and dishonesty” surrounding LGBT issues.
“Entering into a non-heterosexual relationship or marriage must never be considered a breach of loyalty and, consequently, an obstacle to employment or a reason for dismissal,” they said.
The issue of homosexuality has caused a major rift in the Catholic Church between modernisers and conservatives.