“Considerable number of homosexual priests”

Archbishop Stefan Hebe © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hebe has called for a more open approach to sexuality by his church. It must be noted, he said, that there is a "considerable number of homosexual priests" in the Catholic Church.

This is what Hebe said Wednesday evening in Hamburg at a panel discussion on sexual abuse. Sexuality not sufficiently addressed in priestly training, he says.

More priests accused than deacons

Neither homosexuality nor celibacy are the cause of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, said psychiatrist Harald Drebing, coordinator of the study on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. A repressed, "blurred" sexuality, however, forms a good breeding ground for sexual violence, he said.

He said it is striking that five percent of priests are accused of abuse, according to the study, but only one percent of deacons are allowed to be married. In view of the extent of sexual violence, one could not speak of "slips". There are apparently structures in the Catholic Church that promote this.

Victim demands appreciative approach

According to Martin Schmitz, abuse victim from the diocese of Munster, part of a consistent reappraisal is that the perpetrators are named by the church. He said it was agonizing for him that despite multiple attempts, no one in the diocese took up his cause. He had informed three pastors in his parish, but all of them had been transferred after two years without the diocese management having contacted him.

There is still a lack of "appreciative treatment" of the victims of abuse, complained Sabine Andresen, chairwoman of the Independent Commission for the Reappraisal of Sexual Child Abuse. They would have to be actively involved in the process of coming to terms with the case.

On the territory of the current Archdiocese of Hamburg, according to the study, 103 affected and 33 accused priests were recorded. The Mecklenburg region, where half of the abuse cases were registered, is reportedly particularly affected.

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