Joachim Cardinal Meisner has revoked the theologian David Berger's license to teach Catholic religion in schools. The Archdiocese of Cologne on Thursday confirmed a report in the "Frankfurter Rundschau" newspaper. The reason is "publications and statements in the media".
The Cologne archbishop felt compelled to withdraw the so-called "missio canonica," the archdiocese said, because Berger's publications and statements in the media had themselves given the unchallenged appearance of "not conforming in doctrine and conduct of life to the moral and legal norms of the church," according to the archdiocese's statement.
Berger has thus "destroyed the bishop's trust, which is indispensable for the mission of proclamation" and can no longer credibly give religious instruction in the name of the church, the statement continues. The theologian, he said, had been given the opportunity to respond in accordance with canon law and had not contradicted his comments in the media. Berger, for his part, expressed anger in the "Frankfurter Rundschau" that Cardinal Meisner had not given him the opportunity to comment personally on the accusations.
According to the newspaper, the 43-year-old was released from his duties as a religion teacher at the municipal Ville-Gymnasium in Erftstadt (Rhine-Erft district) as of this Thursday. The theologian spoke of a "heavy blow" to peace within the archdiocese.
Archdiocese spokesman Christoph Heckeley stressed to the Catholic News Agency (KNA) that Berger's sexual predisposition as such had been irrelevant in the proceedings.
The theologian had publicly admitted his homosexuality in a guest article for the "Frankfurter Rundschau" at the end of April 2010. The Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome then expelled Berger because his attitudes contradicted "church teaching on some points". In November 2010 he published the book "Der heilige Schein" about his experiences as a gay man in the church.