By Hilary White

LIMBURG, August 21, 2008 ( ) – The Catholic bishop of Limburg, Franz Peter Tebartz van Elst, has removed a priest from office after reports that the latter had “blessed” or “consecrated” the partnership of a pair of homosexual men. Fr. Peter Kollas, a dean of priests in the city of Wetzlar, participated in the “blessing” of the two men who had undertaken a civil “marriage” ceremony.

The event, Friday August 15, was also witnessed by a Protestant minister and about 150 guests, local news reports.

The bishop, appointed to the diocese of Limburg by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, said that Catholics “have a duty to protest the legal recognition of homosexual partnerships.”

In a statement appearing on the diocese’s website, Bishop Tebartz van Elst said he had removed Fr. Kollas as dean of priests to avoid further “damage” to the Church’s reputation.

The bishop met with Fr. Kollas, who said that he would promise to “omit” such blessings in future and said he had never done them before. In the near future, a new dean of priests will be chosen who has the “confidence of the bishop”. The statement comes after protests over the event, not only from Catholics, but also from evangelical Protestants in the area.

The bishop’s office said there is no hatred for homosexuals in the Church, and the Church does not tolerate unjust discrimination. But this cannot give way to legal acknowledgement to homosexual unions analogous to “marriage”.

To contact Bishop Tebartz van Elst:
  Postfach 1355,
  Rossmarket 4,
  Limburg, Bundesrepublik

Telephone: (06431)2950
  Fax: 29-54-76

An email form is available at the diocese’s website at: