Maike Hickson

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German bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck.

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German priest publicly declares his homosexuality, credits Amazon Synod bishop

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August 23, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Bernd Mönkebüscher, a German priest of the Archdiocese of Paderborn, just published a book in which he openly declares that he has a homosexual orientation. He explicitly says he was inspired to take this step due to some remarks by Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck. As the head of one of the two German episcopal relief agencies, Overbeck is heavily involved in the preparations for the Amazon Synod.

Vatican News reported on this matter in an article entitled “Priests outs his homosexual orientation and remains in his office.” Vatican News highlights that such a step on the part of a priest “is heretofore only known by priests who give up their priesthood.”

Mönkebüscher explicitly credits Bishop Overbeck. “Finally,” Mönkebüscher says, there was a bishop who opened a door “so that it becomes possible to speak about something about which one heretofore was not able to speak.” “I walk through this door. With 53 [years of age]. Not proudly, but rather with a limp,” he adds.

Bishop Overbeck had proposed in a February 2019 article for the German Catholic journal Herder Korrespondenz a re-assessment of homosexuality. He proposed a “de-pathologization” of homosexuality leading to “overdue liberation” for homosexuals. Overbeck added that he fears an “intellectual marginalization of the Catholic moral teaching” should such a change not happen. One should be glad that, with the help of new scientific insights, “prejudices” concerning sexuality are being “overcome,” he wrote.

Mönkebüscher’s newly published book is called To Be Unashamedly Catholic (Unverschämt katholisch sein), published in June of 2019. In this book, the priest expresses his hope that the Church will start being supportive of “lust” and of “all those who love.”

“I wish finally to be unashamedly Catholic, to be proud to belong to a Church who closes herself off to nothing and nobody; who is open to every woman and man, who does not judge, marginalize, and exclude,” the priest writes. He also questions explicitly obligatory celibacy for priests.

The cover of Mönkebüscher’s book shows a church spire topped with a lipstick. Mönkebüscher admits in his book that, as a child, he felt drawn to the lipstick of his mother and that he wanted to wear nightgowns.

The priest is the pastor of several parishes in Hamm, and, in light of the abuse crisis and the calls for Church reform, he is of the opinion that “one should be able to say what one thinks.” He did so in February of 2019, when he spoke publicly for the first time about the fact that he has a homosexual orientation. Father Mönkebüscher himself is of the opinion that “minorities need a face.” He says he has lived since 2017 with another priest, with whom he can speak “about nearly everything.” “We know about our limits,” the priest adds, “also about those which are connected with our form of living in the frame of celibacy.”

The diocese has not asked Mönkebüscher to leave his office as the pastor of several parishes.

On the website of his parishes, Mönkebüscher displays the rainbow colors of the LGBT movement, and on 17 August, he posted on his Facebook page an article about a German bishop who claims that blessings for homosexual couples are possible. The priest added this comment to the article: “And that is why we, here in our pastoral team, will act accordingly and make possible and work together — with those who ask for it — for blessing ceremonies, if requested.” On August 4, he celebrated a “moonlight Mass” in his St. Agnes Church, in which the rainbow colors were lit.

LifeSiteNews contacted another priest of the Archdiocese of Paderborn, Father Frank Unterhalt, and asked him for comment. This priest, who is the speaker of the group of faithful priests called Communio veritatis, said that “based on the unambiguous biblical witness, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church calls homosexual acts as a ‘grave depravity’ (CCC 2357).” Unterhalt also pointed out that homosexual acts “gravely” violate the law of chastity (CCC 2396) and have been “vehemently rejected” by Holy Scripture (Gen. 19:1; Rom. 1:24–27; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; 1 Tim. 1:10).

Father Unterhalt reminds us that “the author of the book [Mönkebüscher] To Be Unashamedly Catholic has freely confessed, just before the diaconal ordination — just as the other priestly candidates in the Archdiocese of Paderborn — the Professio fidei [profession of faith], in which one also promises full obedience to the Church’s Magisterium.” In addition to that Professio fidei, as Unterhalt said, the candidates gave their promise “with the help of God to live it [the priestly obligation to celibacy] with a positive attitude and to remain loyal to it until death.”

Unterhalt continued by saying this “stands in sharp contradiction to the content of the above-mentioned book, whose cover — with the red lipstick as the church spire — adds a garish, glaring picture of embarrassing decadence. It is mendacious and repellent that the author tries in different media to assume the role of a purported victim. Here, his own betrayal is obviously being raised up as a model for a purported reform.”

In January of 2019, Michael Menke-Peitzmeyer, the head of the diocesan seminary of Paderborn, publicly declared that chaste homosexual priests would be allowed in his diocese. Paderborn is Mönkebüscher’s own diocese, and this statement might explain why this priest was not asked to leave his position. In the Netherlands, Father Pierre Valkering, another homosexual priest, was just suspended from his work as a pastor because he had spoken publicly about his homosexuality.

The Church has always maintained that homosexual men are excluded from becoming priests. As late as 2016, the Vatican published the document “The Gift of Priestly Vocation,” in which it restated the Church’s rule that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” may not be admitted to the seminary. No. 199 of that document states that “the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’. Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

Only recently, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller — one of the two remaining dubia cardinals — stated that homosexuals should not become priests “for the simple reason that it is difficult to overcome a homosexual inclination.” “In addition,” he continued, “a priest has to be fatherly. He who emotionally does not have the capability for normal human love and for assuming the responsibility for a family would likewise encounter difficulties as a priest.”

But, since in Germany the German bishops are currently preparing a broad debate questioning the Church’s teaching on sexuality, Katholisch.de, the news website of the German Bishops’ Conference, welcomes the initiative of Father Mönkebüscher. In a report on his new book, Katholisch.de states that “the Catholic German bishops know about the wish for reforms. In light of the abuse scandal, they started a ‘binding synodal path’” for the renewal of the Church. This fall, this dialogue on the topics OF power, sexual morality, and the priestly form of living.  Mönkebüscher's book is offering a basis for discussion for it.” At the bottom of the article, the details of the book are given for people to buy it.

Additionally, the retired auxiliary bishop of Münster, Dieter Geerlings, just stated in public that “it is my personal opinion that the Church can bless homosexual couples.” He himself submitted “a paper about the change of the Church’s sexual morality” to the German Bishops’ Conference for his diocese, he explains. Here, it is also about homosexuality. “This topic has to go into the executive committees of the dioceses,” Geerlings added, “so that those who have fear lose that fear.” That is the path chosen in Münster. One also should abandon “the Church's understanding of the unity of the Church which is problematic,” the prelate stressed.

What is now not possible in Poland or Africa could nevertheless become possible in Germany.

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.