When asked if same-sex relationships were allowed, the German prelate replied, “Yes, it’s fine if it’s done in fidelity and responsibility.” It does not affect the relationship with God.
LIMBURG, Germany — The president of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference has called for changes in Church teaching on sex outside marriage and homosexuality.
In an interview with the German magazine Bunte published March 4, Bishop Georg Bätzing concurred with the journalist’s assertion that “no one” adheres to Church teaching that sexuality should only be practiced within marriage, saying: “It’s true. And we have to change the Catechism a bit about that. Sexuality is a gift from God. And not a sin.
Asked if homosexual relations were allowed, the German prelate replied: “Yes, it is OK if it is done with fidelity and responsibility. It does not affect the relationship with God.
Bishop Bätzing, Bishop of Limburg in western Germany, added, “How someone experiences their personal intimacy is none of my business.”
No one employed by the Church should be afraid of losing their job because of this, he said.
German theologian Martin Brüske sharply criticized Bishop Bätzing’s comments in an interview with CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language media partner.
“Bishop Georg Bätzing’s argument here is tricky,” he said. “It implies that the Catechism and therefore the tradition of the Church somehow say that sexuality is a sin. What I would like to know from him is this: where does he find such a statement in the Catechism or in the tradition of the Church?
In fact, the theologian added, the Church has always rejected such an opinion as erroneous.
“By contrasting this false assertion with his second assertion – that sexuality is unrestrictedly a gift from God, the whole area is removed from ethical reflection. According to this logic, it is no longer necessary to clarify or distinguish the way in which sexuality is practiced. There is no longer a distinction between sexual behaviors that are selfish or express mutual appropriation.
Brüske pointed out that the moral teaching of the Church ordered sexuality to the marital love of a man and a woman. The Catechism affirms: “Consequently, sexuality, in which the man and the woman give themselves to each other through acts proper and reserved for spouses, is in no way something purely biological, but concerns the depths of the human person as such. In it, they “would make each other rich with joy and gratitude.”
Brüske said that by abandoning sacramental marriage as the exclusive site of sexuality between man and woman, the orientation to the Gospel would also be abandoned and replaced by an orientation to contemporary culture.
“The chasms of contemporary culture are completely ignored, especially what I would call its current sociology of desire, in which people are often violated in the realm of their sexuality,” he said.
The ethicist, who teaches in Switzerland, said early Christianity, in its focus on Jesus, offered a stark contrast to the culture of the time.
“Precisely because of that, it was attractive and helped the injured find healing,” he said.
Bishop Bätzing does not seem to see this, Brüske told CNA Deutsch. “He is obviously blind to both origins and our present. This leaves me sad and perplexed. And also a little angry. Because such naivety is actually not allowed,” he commented.
In the Bunte interview, Bishop Georg Bätzing also came out in favor of the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women – positions recently endorsed by participants in the German “Synodal Way”.
Brüske said that instead of playing the role of moderator, “the president of the German bishops’ conference identifies himself unreservedly with the demands for a total revision of the Church’s sexual morality, the abolition of celibacy, of the ordination of women”.
He added that given the controversial synodal path, it was highly problematic for the president to push such an agenda forward.