A German priest has blasted the condemnation of homosexuality in the Catechism, calling it “embarrassing” and “nonsense”.
– On a mission “to connect people with God and not to close the doors but to open them”
The teachings in the Catechism that hold that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and can”under no circumstances” be approved “are simply embarrassing from my pastoral and theological point of view”, Dresden priest Christoph Behrens told the German Bishops’ news website Katholisch.de in an interview October 19.
“One can only hope that not too many people read this nonsense”, the priest lamented.
He added that in the Church’s teaching on sexual orientation “what psychologists and other scientists have found out… seems to play no role at all and there is no will to be enlightened” on the part of the hierarchy.
“That is simply embarrassing”, Behrens deplored.
The priest said that although no gay couples have yet approached him on the matter, he would have no problem presiding over a Church blessing on their relationships, since “I see it as my mission to connect people with God and not to close the doors but to open them”.
Moreover, he said he wouldn’t just accede to such ceremonies for gay couples, but “would even recommend it”, and that much firmly in view of the whole Church community and not off to the side and privately, where many gay couples and the priests who bless them have been forced due to the official Church’s intransigence on welcoming homosexuality.
– If the Church doesn’t learn from past mistakes “at some point we will simply no longer exist”
In June, at the express wish of the bishop of the diocese of Dresden-Meissen, Heinrich Timmerevers, priest Behrens was entrusted along with lay pastoral worker Carola Gans with a new diocesan ministry to the LGBTIQ+ community.
In September Bishop Timmerevers came out firmly in favour of Church blessings for gay couples, and Behrens said that he understands that that episcopal backing for blessings applies also to his own ministry, such that he does not even need to ask permission to carry out that type of ceremony.
The Dresden-Meissen bishop “gave me a free hand and gave me a mandate”, Behrens celebrated, explaining that he does not fear any disciplinary consequences from his outreach to the gay community.
“I feel every support” from the diocese, the priest went on, saying that Bishop Timmerevers has personally thanked him and Gans “for our commitment”. “So we have this moral support and that’s all I need”, Behrens rejoiced.
The priest declared that he and Gans “are proud” that the Church in the Dresden-Meissen diocese is now tackling the inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people “proactively”, and adding that “as I understand Bishop Timmerevers, this is also an issue for which he will fight at the level of the bishops’ conference”.
“I don’t think that’s just garbage, but conviction”, Behrens said of his bishop’s commitment to welcoming gay people.
“If nothing happens… in the Church – if nothing moves and we don’t learn from past mistakes – then at some point we will simply no longer exist. And he doesn’t want to risk that”, the priest explained of Timmerevers’ attitude.
– A lot of work still to be done: “As a Church we have done a great job in making sure that homosexual people never even have the idea of turning to a priest”
The positive – but still more theoretical – parts of the new Dresden-Meissen diocesan ministry to the LGBTIQ+ community aside, Behrens lamented that responses to the Church’s new outreach has so far been few and far between.
“As a Church, we have done a great job in making sure that homosexual people never even have the idea of turning to a priest”, he deplored.
Nonetheless, the priest said he was optimistic, and insisted his ministry “is not just about fighting for [a Church] marriage or blessing” for gay couples, “but rather about helping people who are in need and who need the Church… that someone listens to them and accompanies them”.
If LGBTIQ+ people in the diocese of Dresden-Meissen – believers or not – “knew that they could go to the Catholic Church with their worries and concerns, then we would have already achieved a lot. That is my heart’s desire”, Behrens reflected.
The priest concluded by reaffirming that he is a “fighter” and will not be waylaid in his ministry.
“When I am convinced of something and have realised that it is right and important, I am not afraid of the consequences”, Behrens claimed.
“If we believe in God’s creation and that he has made everything to be good, then I have to make sure that God’s sentiment is alive in the world. And although we are a very small diocese, we have not met with any hostility for our work so far – although we feared it. This also encourages us to say: ‘We are on the right path'”, Behrens concluded.