The German Bishops have insisted that homosexuality is “normal” and “unchangeable” and that sexual relations after divorce and remarriage is not a “serious sin”.
Driving the news
As part of the German Church’s ‘synodal path’, the Commission for Marriage and Family of the German Bishops’ Conference held a specialist consultation on human sexuality December 4 in Berlin.
With the help of outside experts, the bishops focused in their consultation on medical, anthropological and theological perspectives on sexual morality in dialogue with the Church’s doctrine and sex education model.
At the conclusion of the meet, the Bishops released a statement affirming that the ‘synodal path’ reform process’ discussions on possible changes to Church doctrine on sexuality cannot take place “without knowledge of the state of the sciences”.
“There was a consensus that human sexuality encompasses a dimension of pleasure, reproduction and relationship”, the German Bishops stated in their press release.
“The sexual preference of humans is expressed during puberty and assumes a heterosexual or homosexual orientation”, the prelates continued.
Both heterosexuality and homosexuality “belong to the normal forms of a sexual predisposition that can not be changed or changed by any specific socialisation”, the Bishops said.
“As a result, in Church thinking, this means that any form of discrimination against homosexuals must be rejected, as has long been required by the magisterium and is also explicitly emphasised by Pope Francis in the post-synodal letter Amoris laetitia“, the prelates explained.
However, despite this openness to homosexual orientation, the prelates admitted that the Church’s “ban” on homosexual practice is still a “hot topic” that needs further discussion, to determine whether the injunction is still “timely” or whether it needs to change.
Why it matters
The German Bishops suggested that another point of the Church’s doctrine on sexuality that needs reconsidering is the taboo on using artificial contraceptives in marriage and de facto relationships.
Two members of the German-language group of the 2015 Synod on the Family – Archbishop Heiner Koch (of Berlin) and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode (Osnabrück) – “underlined the importance of a solid discussion supported by humanities and theology and emphasised the developments that are already apparent in Amoris laetitia“, the German Bishops press release stated.
That future discussion aside, the Bishops noted that, thanks to Amoris laetitia, “a sexual relationship after divorce and remarriage is not now qualified as a serious sin and thus provides for no general exclusion from the reception of the Eucharist” for Catholics in those relationships.
Famously – and to the chagrin of conservatives – Amoris laetitia allows for divorced and remarried Catholics to return to the sacraments through a process of “discernment” in individual cases.
This “Magisterium” of “journey, accompany and discern to find solutions” for divorced and remarried couples “has nothing to do with situation ethics, but with the great moral tradition of the Church”, Pope Francis again insisted in a November dialogue with Southeast Asian Jesuits made public this week.