Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, the German Bishops’ head, spoke to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recently about what he sees as the priorities of society and the Church in the middle and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he said that he would be happy if this crisis led to greater solidarity, not only in Germany, but throughout Europe.
He added that he also hopes the outbreak has helped the world to identify what’s really “important in life”.
The president of the German Bishops’ Conference, when speaking in terms of the Church’s role during the COVID-19 pandemic, said that his concern was to approach “the many who regard the Church’s moral teachings as a prohibitive morality”. He said that he would like to change it, especially because many people get the message nowadays that the Church clings to moral prohibitions when it comes to sexuality.
He added that it’s normal that young people want to be near the Church, but then they say that “if they’re wrong, they can’t do it”, or even that the Church’s teachings are “outdated”.
“On the first question – that of the Church’s concern for homosexuals – “for a long time in moral theology we’ve said that, if it’s true love that lives commitment and faithfulness, we must recognize it. If people decide for themselves how they live, can’t we tell them that their relationship is blessed by God?”. – he said.
He noted that the existence of married priests doesn’t harm the Chuch, and he gave two examples of how the Church can change its tone on sexual morality without deviating from doctrine.
On the second question, which is about the compulsory priestly celibacy, the Bishop made reference to the final document of October’s Amazon Synod to affirm that priestly service is more important than clerical continence, and to show himself in agreement with the ordination of “proven” married men, or viri probati.