German bishop urges change on Church teaching on sexual morality

Bishop Ackermann

The responses to the Vatican questionnaire on the family are a clear signal that certain changes concerning the Church’s teaching on sexual morality are imperative, according to Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier, Germany, reports NCR Online.

Interviewed by the Allgemeine Zeitung Mainz, Bishop Ackermann, 50, said the responses showed 'quite clearly' that, for the majority of the faithful, the Church’s teaching on moral sexuality was 'repressive' and 'remote from life.'

Declaring a second marriage after a divorce a perpetual mortal sin, and under no circumstances allowing remarried divorced people ever to receive the Sacraments, was not helpful, he said and added, 'We bishops will have to make suggestions here. We must strengthen people’s sense of responsibility and then respect their decisions of conscience.'

It was also no longer tenable to declare that every kind of cohabitation before marriage was a grievous sin, and 'the difference between natural and artificial birth control is somehow artificial. No one understands it I fear,' Ackermann said.

As far as homosexual relationships were concerned, the Church would have to appeal to people’s sense of responsibility, he continued. 'The Christian concept of the human being emanates from the polarity of the sexes but we cannot simply say homosexuality is unnatural,' he explained.

While the Church must 'hold fast' to the uniqueness of marriage between a man and a woman, it could not just ignore registered same-sex unions where the couples had promised to be faithful to and responsible for one another.

Bishop Ackermann was sharply criticised by Bishops Heinz Josef Algermissen of Fulda and Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg. For an individual bishop to react to the responses of the questionnaire on his own was 'counterproductive,'Bishop Algermissen, 71, said.

'I don’t hold with the normative strength of facts. Truth is not something that can be adjusted,' he insisted but went on to admit, 'We bishops obviously have a problem. We have clearly not succeeded in putting across Catholic sexual ethics and its positive concept of the human being.'

Decisions on such matters were, however, the world Church’s concern and not the concern of an individual bishop or bishops’ conference, Algermissen emphasized.

FULL STORY Church teaching must change on sexual morality, says German bishop (NCR Online)

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