For Catholics ‘Concerned’ About Germany, What’s Happening in Bätzing’s Limburg Offers a Case in Point

The website of the Diocese of Limburg published a report on the panel discussion ‘Out in Church,’ without criticizing it or clarifying Church teaching.

Limburg’s Bishop Georg Bätzing poses for photos after he was elected leader of the German Bishops’ Conference on March 3, 2020, during an episcopal gathering in Mainz, western Germany.
Limburg’s Bishop Georg Bätzing poses for photos after he was elected leader of the German Bishops’ Conference on March 3, 2020, during an episcopal gathering in Mainz, western Germany. (photo: Torsten Silz / AFP via Getty Images)

FRANKFURT, Germany — “The focus is too much on homosexual men!” said Eric Tilch at a panel discussion in Frankfurt last Wednesday hosted by the Diocese of Limburg — the bishopric headed by Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German Catholic bishops’ conference. 

But Tilch, a Church youth education officer, wasn’t protesting against the homosexual agenda or seeking to uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. Rather he was proposing the Church accept “other forms of love that are still in the dark,” according to an article on the panel posted on the diocesan website.  

“I worry that the Church is too attached to a family photograph from the 1950s, i.e., father, mother, child,” said Tilch. “There is so much more than that, for example hybrid families, changing relationships, polyamorous love [multiple sexual partners].” He also wanted transsexual and intersexual people to be given more attention in public discussions. 

The panel discussion was called “Out in Church” after a recent initiative of the same name in which 125 homosexual priests and employees of the Catholic Church in Germany called for more LGBT rights in the Church and complained about discrimination and other experiences in the Church. The initiative was made public Jan. 24 in a documentary, also called Out in Church, broadcast on ARD, one of Germany’s main television channels. 

Tilch was one of the employees who appeared in the documentary, along with another panel member, Stefan Diefenbach, a former religious, now civilly married to another man. 

Also speaking on the panel were lesbian couple Bettina Offer and Gabriele Mastmann, both lawyers and active in a Limburg parish; Petra Weitzel, who sits on the board of the German Society for Trans-identity and Intersexuality and professor Livia Prüll, a biological male transsexual. 

Their comments oppose both the Church’s moral teaching and Christian anthropology, and yet were published without criticism or correction on the website of the Limburg Diocese. 

In an article written by staff writer Anne Zegelman, headlined “The Church Should Lead With the Rainbow Flag,” Zegelman wrote that Out in Church was “well received” and that since its airing, the Diocese of Limburg had ruled that its regulations connected to the sexual preference and marital status of employees “no longer apply.” She also wrote that since Feb. 18, the diocese had instructed that employees of the same sex can civilly “marry” without sanction. 

 

Radical Demands

All the panel’s speakers said much had happened since the documentary aired, but they wanted more changes. 

Diefenbach called for revisions to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, while acknowledging that such a goal would be a challenge. Weitzel asked that children of kindergarten age be “taken seriously if they make it clear early on that their feelings don’t match their biological sex.” She also argued that “intersex children” — those who claim to be born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit definitions of male and female — should still be baptized. 

Since 2021, doctors have been banned from performing corrective surgery on children born without a clear sex, even if their parents wanted it. Weitzel said she wants such children to grow up without a clear gender so they could later “express themselves.” 

Diefenbach said he wished the Vatican would not “shoot itself in the foot” and “once again make authoritarian decisions, but instead remain in dialogue with everyone and realize there is no one truth.” Offer agreed, saying the Church must “finally understand” that, look at what the “designer who calls himself God” has created, and integrate all “colorful things.” 

“I actually expect my Church to grab the rainbow flag and lead the way instead of lagging behind!” Offer said. Her lawyer “wife,” Gabriele Mastmann, argued that more needs to be done so all Church employees can have legal security. 

Tilch did not want to stop there and demanded that the Church not only speak more openly about sexual preference, but also about sexuality in general — “even if this means putting up with someone deciding against a traditional, stable partnership.”

Responding to the panel discussion, Mathias von Gersdorff, head of the German section of the Society for the Protection of Tradition, Family and Property, said he was not surprised by the panel’s comments, as he believed the German Synodal Path would inevitably open a Pandora’s box of wild propositions and demands.

 

Moving Away From Truth

“It’s actually no wonder that increasingly radical demands are coming from grassroots, left-wing Catholics, such as recognition of polyamorous partnerships or alternating couples,” von Gersdorff told the Register. “If you move away from the truth, one enters a process that becomes ever more radicalized.”

He referred to a recent interview the former head of the German bishops, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, gave Stern magazine in which he said the Church should approve of homosexual acts. 

“If ‘love’ is just a hardly definable ethical criterion, there is no longer any boundary between a morally right relationship (i.e., the sacramentally-entered marriage) and all other forms of partnership. Any drawing of boundaries then becomes basically arbitrary.”

Von Gersdorff, who has been active in the German pro-life movement since the 1990s, noted that some of the roots of these radical demands find themselves in the 2015 Synod on the Family when there was “already talk of irregular relationships, such as ‘remarried’ divorcees, but not only these.” 

“If ‘special rights’ are given to ‘remarried’ divorcees, as suggested in a footnote in Amoris Laetitia, why not to all other forms of partnership?” Von Gersdorff contended. “Sexual morality and the understanding of marriage are formed from a single entity. If one changes a small detail, it completely collapses.”

The German Synodal Path, a multi-year process ostensibly aimed at reforming the Church after the sexual abuse crisis, but which critics say is being used to introduce secular morals into the Church, has in recent weeks led to public fraternal corrections of Germany’s bishops from their Polish and Nordic counterparts.

The episcopal opposition stepped up a gear on Tuesday when more than 70 Catholic bishops followed suit, signing a “fraternal open letter” to Germany’s bishops and warning of disastrous consequences and possibly schism if the country’s synodal process continues along the same path.

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