If you work for the Catholic Church and come out as queer, you can lose your job. Nevertheless, 125 people take this step and publicly demand an end to discrimination.
Berlin/Hamm – In an unprecedented campaign, 125 employees of the Catholic Church came out as queer and called for an end to their discrimination.
Among them are priests, community and pastoral officers, religion teachers, but also employees from the church administration. Non-heterosexual people or people who do not identify with the traditional role model of men and women or other social norms relating to gender and sexuality describe themselves as queer.
They demand a change in church labor law so that sexual orientation and gender identity are no longer grounds for dismissal. In addition, defamatory statements about gender and sexuality are to be removed from church teaching. They should no longer be denied access to the Catholic sacraments and to all professional fields of the Church. Last March, the Vatican once again made it clear that homosexual partnerships do not correspond to God’s plans.
Pastor Bernd Mönkebüscher from Hamm, who had already helped initiate nationwide blessing services for homosexual couples in 2021, told the German Press Agency that the campaign was due to the coming out – i.e. making the sexual orientation or identity public – of 185 actors in the past been inspired year. The signatories at the time, among them Ulrich Matthes and Ulrike Folkerts, had criticized the fact that many could not openly admit to being queer without having to fear professional disadvantages.
Of course, that applies to the Catholic Church to a much greater extent, said Mönkebüscher: “The community officer who wants to marry her girlfriend loses her job.”
This is confirmed by Monika Schmelter (65) from Lüdinghausen in Münsterland. She kept her relationship with her current wife a secret for 40 years because she herself worked for Caritas and her partner was a religion teacher. They both had to travel long distances to their work in order not to be discovered, Schmelter told the German Press Agency. When it finally leaked out and she confided in her boss, he said: “If I keep it secret, then I can keep my job. But if I had made that open at my duty station, it would have resulted in my resignation.”
initiative and manifesto
The initiative, which now wants to mobilize the public against such pressure from the church, is called “#OutInChurch. For a church without fear”. The network calls on all LGBTIQ+ people who work full-time or on a voluntary basis for the Catholic Church to join the initiative. The appeal goes to the bishops to publicly declare their support for the manifesto. LGBTIQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Inter and Queer, the plus sign stands for other identities and genders. The manifesto states, among other things, that the derogatory statements of the church, for example on same-sex relationships, are no longer tenable and acceptable in the light of scientific knowledge. “Such discrimination is a betrayal of the gospel.” Rather, the church must express “that LGBTIQ+ people, whether living alone or in a relationship, are blessed by God.”
The reform movement Maria 2.0 showed solidarity with the initiative. A reform of church labor law and a revision of church teaching are “absolutely necessary, since the Catholic Church, with its discriminatory attitude towards queer people worldwide, acts irresponsibly in terms of human rights”. The fact that in Germany in 2022 you still need courage to admit to being queer is a scandal.
On Monday evening at 10.25 p.m. on ARD, the documentary “How God Created Us” will be shown on the subject. In it, some of the participants in the initiative appear in front of the camera for the first time. They report on a game of hide-and-seek that often lasts for years and the fear of coming out. dpa