Over 120 German Catholic Priests Come Out As Queer And Launch OutInChurch Campaign To End LGBTIQ+ Discrimination

Over 120 employees of the German Catholic church have come out as gay or queer in order to launch a campaign aimed to fight institutional discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community.

The 125 people, including priests, pastoral officers, teachers and administrative workers, publicly outed themselves, saying they want to “live openly without fear” in the German city of Berlin on Monday (24th January).

In addition, they called for a reform of the labour law by starting the ‘#OutInChurch – For a church without fear’ campaign demanding that their sexual orientation and gender identity should not be grounds for dismissal.

The antidiscrimination campaign launched by 125 LGBTIQ+ catholic priests in Germany. (@outinchurch/Newsflash)

According to German pastor and campaign co-initiator Bernd Moenkebuescher, “if a community officer wants to marry her girlfriend, she loses her job”.

He then pointed to the case of former Caritas employee Monika Schmelter, 65, who kept her relationship with her religious-teacher partner secret for 40 years.

After she came out, Schmelter said: “If I kept it secret, then I could keep my job. But if I had made that open at my workplace, it would have led to my resignation.”

Catholic priest Bernd Monkebuscher who co-initiated the OutInChurch campaign. (Newsflash)

Moenkebuescher added: “Unfortunately, the church is great at keeping quiet about things and sitting it out, but I hope that through our action, that will no longer work.

“Behind each of these people, there is an unbelievable story of suffering because they had to and still have to learn to accept themselves as they are.”

The campaign was inspired by a public coming-out of 185 actors in Germany last year, and it also came as a response to the Vatican’s Catholic Clergy document stating that it cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin” last March.

Bishop Helmut Dieser, who welcomed the OutInChurch campaign at the Council meeting in the German city of Wurzburg. (Newsflash)

Now, the initiative is calling for all members of the LGBTIQ+ community who work for the Church to join up, and it is appealing to bishops to give it public support.

Those behind the initiative also want the church to clarify “that LGBTIQ+ people, whether living alone or in a relationship, are blessed by God” and encourage church officials to accept homosexual employees to come out without having to fear being fired.

Bishop Helmut Dieser welcomed the campaign at the German Bishops’ Conference Permanent Council in the city of Wuerzburg and said: “I would like to welcome this on behalf of the German Bishops’ Conference as a sign that we are working to ensure that such a climate of freedom from fear must prevail and arise in our church.”

The ‘How God created us’ documentary portraying the coming out stories of the Catholic Church employees that was broadcasted on 24th January 2022. (Newsflash)

Dieser also added: “No one should be discriminated against or devalued or criminalised because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.”

Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers expressed his support on Twitter and said: “I am very grateful for each of the impressive testimonies. We are all creatures of God. And the Church must offer everyone a home. That’s what I want to do.”

A documentary named ‘How God Created Us’ featuring some of the campaign participants reporting their yearlong fear of coming out at their workplace was broadcast on ARD on Monday evening.