REGENSBURG, Germany, December 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The German bishops’ conference is facing strong criticism from within its own ranks after one of its departments published a flyer supporting “gender ideology” while the October Synod on the Family was underway.
The flyer, called “Being Sensitive to the Sexes. Gender in a Catholic Light” and published October 22, has caused much controversy in Germany and is now coming under scrutiny internationally.
One of the controversies pertained to the question of who actually published this pamphlet. The Austrian Catholic website, Kath.net, contacted several German dioceses to get more information about the flyer. Most of these dioceses merely referred the inquirers to the German Bishops' Conference for further information. The spokesperson of the German Bishops' Conference, Matthias Kopp, then explained that the flyer “was not a publication of the German Bishops' Conference, but, rather a publication of two departments,” those on pastoral care for women and men. Nevertheless, the flyer carries the logo of the German Bishops' Conference and says “Department for Pastoral Care for Women of the German Bishops' Conference.”
Another controversy dealt with the question of the content of the flyer. Kath.net collected and published several voices opposing the document. Yet the pamphlet merely claims to clarify gender theory, saying, “The flyer … you hold now in your hands wants to contribute to the objectivity of the debate. We explain what 'sex' and 'gender' mean, what is important to know about Gender-Mainstreaming, and what this all has to do with the Christian Image of Man.”
However, as the critics say, this flyer does not at all contribute to the clarification of the topic, but is rather confusing. One of the major points is that the flyer claims that Gender Mainstreaming is merely “a political strategy which wants to contribute to the equality of chances between women and men.”
Bishop Rudolf Vorderholzer, of the Diocese of Regensburg, published a critique of the document on October 23, a day after its release. He criticizes the ambiguity of the circulated text: “The formulation 'the Catholic position says' that sex and gender belong together is false and misleading here.” Vorderholzer adds: “It is naive and misleading to claim that Gender-Mainstreaming is a strategy that wants to promote equality between the sexes. Gender-Mainstreaming in fact wants the social and political acceptance of homosexuality; and Diversity-Mainstreaming aims at putting on an equal level all kinds of sexual orientations. It is even about putting into question heterosexuality itself as being normal and thus in accordance with Creation.” Vorderholzer also laments that marriage and the family are not even once mentioned in the flyer. “As such,” he adds, “it [the brochure] is already now a document of Gender-Mainstreaming within the Church.”
Two weeks later, on October 31, Bishop Vorderholzer said that the flyer “was written to declare these [“gender light”] theories as being basically compatible with Catholic belief, in contrast to an extreme form of gender mainstream [sic], and it claims to be formulating the Catholic position on this issue.” And, he continues: “In my opinion, [even] the former appears impossible – finally, there is no such thing as 'gender light'. The concept lowers the drawbridge and opens the gate to positions irreconcilable with the Christian faith. And the flyer not only fails to present the Catholic position, it leaves it out completely.” Vorderholzer also stresses that, even though he is a member of the German Bishops' Conference, he had neither seen nor approved of the document before its release. The bishop also says that the flyer “fails to mention to the reader the large number of [existing] Church statements regarding gender theories, although there is no shortage of them.”
On November 5, Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen of the Diocese of Fulda also distanced himself from the flyer with the following words: “I have in no way been asked to give my placet to it. And that applies also to the bishops with whom I have gotten in touch in the recent days about this matter. Who, then, speaks here for the Bishops' Conference?” And he continues: “Never would I have given my consent to the naive attempt to 'read gender in a Catholic way.'”
The German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes also criticized the German Bishops' Conference for this flyer. He said on October 24: “The authorization of this flyer by the German Bishops' Conference is indeed shocking – as if this [gender] ideology is encouraging equality between man and woman!” Cordes raises the question: “What is pushing the editors and distributors of this superficial flyer?” And he gives as possible answers: “Simpleminded naivete; political opportunism; irresponsible stupidity – or simply anti-Roman pride?” Cordes concludes with the words: “Protest is what is left to me.”