Church Must Change “Deficient Mindset” on Homosexuality, Says German Jesuit

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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 [Editor’s note: Translations based upon Google Translate and the National Catholic Reporter article linked below]. 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 — 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.’ “

Fr. Mertes is known as a church whistleblower in Germany, having published letters in 2011 from students who survived teachers’ abuse at a Jesuit school in the country. His latest interview, while not whistleblowing, retells a truth about the church and LGBT issues that many people already know but that must keep being proclaimed as loudly and boldly as possible.

   *     *     *     *     *     *     *

For those who are interested in the topic of why LGBT Catholics stay in the Church, tune into Call To Action’s webinar entitledHome Is Where the Heart Is: Being LGBTQI & Home in the Catholic Church,” led by Owen Borda, a professor of interdisciplinary studies at Keuka College, New York.   The webinar takes place Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 pm.  You can register by clicking here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Related Article:

National Catholic Reporter, “Whistleblower: Catholics must work together to change church’s mindset on homosexuality

7 thoughts on “Church Must Change “Deficient Mindset” on Homosexuality, Says German Jesuit

  1. lynne1946 June 5, 2016 / 3:24 am

    Thank you, Father Mertes! We need more like you to speak out

  2. Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf June 5, 2016 / 7:03 am

    The “deficient mindset” has been with the RC for many years. It has been also applied to women. Aquinas wrote that a woman is an incomplete man.

  3. Barry Blackburn June 5, 2016 / 9:10 am

    We need a lot more voices in the Church like those of Fr. Klaus Mertes. Canada, twenty five years ago, had the powerful voice of Fr. Andre Guindon OMI who called for a wider vision in seeing the ends of marriage as “fecundity” not in the narrow biological way but the much broader “charity and relationship” suggested by Fr. Mertes. His vision and that of Fr. Guindon can unite a homosexual and heterosexual (LGBTQ) sexual morality so badly needed in the Church today.

  4. ddkiester June 5, 2016 / 1:38 pm

    I disagree with one of Fr. Mertes observations. He speaks of those of us who have left the Roman Church as “los[ing] contact with their church [and] with their weekly contact with the Gospel, the Eucharist and the Sacraments”. After nearly sixty years of faithful participation in the Roman tradition, I could no longer bear the insults and condemnations coming primarily from the hierarchy and magesterium. The final straw was Ratzinger’s assessment of me being “inherently disordered.” I have found a spiritual home within Christ’s Church with the Episcopal Church and I still have weekly (even daily) contact with the Gospel, the Eucharist and the Sacraments. I can find no justification in Christ’s teachings for not opposing discrimination much less participating in it. I recognize I have no right to judge “those” people and I do not. I merely choose to participate in a community that welcomes me.

    • Friends June 5, 2016 / 8:43 pm

      Beautifully said! The Roman/Anglican/Episcopal/Eastern Orthodox branches of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church ALL possess the original transmission of lineage given to the Apostles by Jesus Himself. By the time this original transmission comes down to the contemporary fire-breathing Evangelical Fundamentalists, the situation gets a bit more contentious. But “The Lord Knows His Own” — thank God — both literally and figuratively!

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