[A case of “throwing gas on a fire”]
Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry
June 5, 2016
Fr. Klaus Mertes
Appealing to lesbian and gay Catholics to remain in the church, a German priest said the church must change its “deficient mindset” on homosexuality and must defend human rights.
Jesuit Fr. Klaus Mertes was interviewed by the German newspaper Taz [as reported by the National un-Catholic Reporter]. Asked why lesbian and gay Catholics should remain in the church, especially after Pope Francis’ disappointing exhortation Amoris Laetitia, the priest replied:
‘I know many Catholic gays and lesbians who refuse to be ostracized and who remain in the church despite what they have had to and are having to suffer. . .This helps me to see that the church has a great deal to offer. Every Catholic who leaves the church at the same time loses contact with their spiritual home in the church community, with their weekly encounter with the Gospel, the Eucharist and the Sacraments. That is a big loss.
Mertes was clear, however, that he respected people who choose to leave the church. He also noted the many Catholic parents he has met seek greater solidarity from the church for their LGBT children.
Mertes condemned present church teachings on homosexuality, saying the “deficient mindset” about them must be reformed. Noting that sexual morality is indivisible from reproduction in present church teaching, he said the church should instead consider sexual morality in view of charity and relationship, rather than “a concept of nature which views the sexual act in isolation.”
Speaking about the struggle for human rights, the priest criticized the hierarchy’s inaction on defending LGBT people from discrimination and violence. With its global influence, the church should be ensuring their basic rights are protected, including the ability to be openly gay without being ostracized. Mertes said vocally opposing the death penalty for homosexuality would “at least be a beginning” from church leaders, adding:
‘I am appalled that the church is so silent on this issue. It saddens me to see that in some African countries where homosexuals can be imprisoned or even put to death for holding hands in public, the church does not demand that homosexuals at least be given the most elementary human rights.’
Mertes called upon Catholics to work actively for such LGBT reforms in church teaching and practice, stating:
‘All of us [Catholics] — homosexuals and heterosexuals [Which kind is Fr. Klaus?] — must join together to get the church to give up its deficient mindset on homosexuality. . .The Catholic Church is a world church. In Europe it took us 200 years to get as far as we are at present on this issue. Africa and Southeast Asia are still miles from where we are, but the struggle to achieve for gay rights the world over is worth staying in the church for. . .
‘[Ireland’s passage of marriage equality by referendum in 2015 is an] example of how, after decades of struggle from inside a predominantly Catholic culture takes place an opening for the rights of gay people. That’s how it goes. Processes must come from within, because only then they are sustainable.’
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