Theologians’ Revolt Deepening, Widening

When the German theologians last week released their declaration calling for far-reaching reform of the Catholic Church culture, structures and teaching on sexual morality, it had been signed by 143 leading theologians from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The publication of the declaration on Friday coincided with the resignation of the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, in the culmination of sustained popular protests in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. Since then, Arab street protests have spread to other countries of the Middle East, notably including Bahrain, Iran, Libya, Jordan and Algeria.

The theologians’ revolt has similarly been spreading beyond the original 143 German signatories.

Read the rest of this entry »

Catholic Revolution Gaining Momentum: Germany, Ireland

Within hours of my post earlier today on the Catholic silent revolution, came news of a dramatic corroboration, with a solid band of German academic theologians in open revolt.

In September this year, Pope Benedict will make his first papal visit to Berlin. This will be worth watching: there have been numerous indications that the German Church has been transformed by public anger and disillusionment following the abuse scandals. Well in advance of the visit, prominent German Catholics are preparing for the visit by making public calls for reforms in the Church.

Reuters has a call by a sizeable number of Catholic theologians, said to represent fully one third of all the theologians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, for far-reaching, radical reforms of the Catholic Church.

English language reports have concentrated on the call to ordain “older” married men, which intriguingly appears to mirror a similar call made right back in 1970 by – Fr Joseph Ratzinger.

Supporters of a married priesthood caused a stir late last month when they unearthed a 1970 appeal to ordain older married men signed by nine German theologians including the then Father Joseph Ratzinger, the present pope.

An end to celibacy though is not the only reform that is needed, nor the only one demanded by the German theologians.  They have also asked for the ordination of women, lay participation in the election of bishops, and greater inclusion for those who have remarried or are in homosexual partnerships. Read the rest of this entry »

What Gay Catholics Have Done: Collusion

Faced with the Catholic Church’s disordered teaching on homoerotic relationships, gay Catholics have adopted many different strategies to survive, from attempted compliance, to outright rejection of the teaching, and the entire Catholic Church along with it. As my contributor Bart is showing in his excellent new series, the issues are even more complex for gay priests.

David Berger is not a priest (he says he could not accept the requirement of celibacy), but a theologian. In an attempt to secure a career while still living with a male partner, he found himself increasingly drawn into a life of hypocrisy, collusion and dishonesty.

David Berger, 42, was Professor of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas. The theologian published and editedTheologisches (Theological Issues), a conservative Catholic monthly magazine in Germany from 2003 until this year, and had contacts with various arch-conservative groups within the Catholic Church. He resigned from all his offices after outing himself as a gay man in April 2010. He is now a high school teacher and has written a book about his experiences in the Catholic Church in Germany. “Der heilige Schein. Als schwuler Theologe in der katholischen Kirche” (The Holy Illusion: A Gay Theologian in the Catholic Church), was recently published by Germany’s Ullstein Verlag. It has not been published in English.

-Der Spiegel

In his book, Berger argues that the external homophobia of the church is a cover for a homoerotic culture within. (Surprised? No, I thought not).Read the full, depressing article on the compromises that this required, and what it revealed of the homoerotic  inner culture of the Church, at Der Spiegel.

Gay Marriage: Where Next?

In the first six months of the year, three countries have already approved legal recognition for same sex marriage, up from just two last year, and an average of less than one a year during the previous eight years. The pace is clearly accelerating. We could well ask, where next? There are several candidates, some of which could see change quite soon.

 

State of Marriage, Europe: July 2010

 

Luxembourg is closely associated with its neighbours Netherlands and Belgium (hence the term “Benelux” countries), which were the first to introduce full marriage equality. At present, the Grand Duchy’s legal provision is based on the French PACS, but the government has announced plans to upgrade that to full marriage. In January, the minister of Justice announced  promised that legislation would be passed before the summer recess this year. The  bill was accepted for the session which began last week, and could be passed within weeks.

Slovenia announced its intention to provide legal recognition in July 2009, and passed the first reading of the required bill in March this year. There have been no reports since.

Nepal will introduce full marriage rights for all couples, but this too could take some time yet. To comply with a ruling by the Supreme Court last year, the country is obliged to do so, and has promised to include such a provision in the new constitution currently being drafted. It is expected that this should be promulgated by May 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy, Denmark – SPAIN

What more is there to say?

First, of course, is to welcome the fact that the cases are being investigated at all, and that the numbers are low.  But here, as elsewhere, there is evidence that some clergy at least put heavy pressure on a young complainant to simply withdraw his allegations.  Given the high proportion of sexual abuse cases outside of the church that never get reported, we should recognise that the reporting rate inside the church will also be low – especially when powerful authority figures put pressure on the weak to just button their lips and go away.

 

From Times Online:

Vatican investigating 14 sex abuse cases in Spain

The Vatican is investigating 14 cases of alleged child sex abuse committed within the Spanish Catholic Church over the past nine years it emerged today.

The incidents of abuse are alleged to take have taken place between January 2001 and March 2010. Charles Scicluna, the promoter of justice in the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said today they amounted to “less than one case every year”.
Monsignor Scicluna stressed that Spain was one of the countries with the “lowest number of alleged abuse investigations” and said no convictions had been made.

The Vatican investigation in Spain widens the number of alleged abuse cases involving the Catholic Church after recent cases in Italy, Ireland and Germany.

Despite falling church attendances, the Catholic Church in Spain is said to wield much power which victims claim makes it hard for them to denounce their abusers.

Juan Pedro Oliver, a lawyer who acted for a 12-year-old boy who was sexually abused by Amador Romero, a priest in Granada in 2001, said that his client came under pressure to withdraw the allegation.

Romero was later jailed for 18 months for sexual abuse of a minor.

“The bishop, instead of helping the victim to make the allegation, did exactly the opposite,” Mr Pedro said.

“He kept the priest in the same village and made it difficult to go ahead with the case.”