MAINZ, Germany — In an open letter published Sunday by a German daily, nine German Catholics, including two prominent Jesuits, demand a break with the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.
The signatories call for a reworking of ecclesial structure, namely a “separation of powers, the priestly ordination of women, an end to mandatory priestly celibacy, and other changes.
Published in the Feb. 3 edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the letter is addressed to Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German bishops’ conference, and tells him that if he and other bishops were to decide to “spearhead the reform movement” they would be assured of the signatories’ full support.
Among those who signed the letter are the rector of the Sankt Georgen Graduate School in Frankfurt, Jesuit Father Ansgar Wucherpfennig, as well as Jesuit Father Klaus Mertes and Frankfurt City’s Catholic dean, Father Johannes zu Eltz.
Father Wucherpfennig’s re-election as rector was recently called into question by the Vatican because of comments made in 2016, in which he claimed, among other things, that passages condemning homosexuality in the Bible had been “misread.” He has since been reinstated.
The three priests are joined by former Jesuit Jörg Splett, an academic philosopher, as well as his wife, Ingrid, the “Greens” politician Bettina Jarasch, Frankfurt Caritas director Gaby Hagemans, and two members of the Central Committee of German Catholics, Claudia Lücking-Michel and Dagmar Mensink.
The signatories demand the Catholic Church should hit “reset” and make a fresh start when it comes to the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, including a “reasonable and just evaluation of homosexuality.”
The letter further calls on bishops to pursue a “genuine separation of powers,” claiming that this would “conform better with Christ’s humility,” and to “open (...) ordained ministry up to women.” What is more, the signatories demand that diocesan priests should freely choose whether to live a celibate life or not: This way, “celibacy can again credibly point to the Kingdom of Heaven,” the letter states.
Finally, the signatories wish Cardinal Marx a “good trip to Rome” when attending the Feb. 21-24 sexual-abuse summit and ask him to pass on their greetings to Pope Francis.