“Don't close your eyes”

Consequences of the abuse study and priest shortage: Essen vicar general Klaus Pfeffer has "sympathy" for the demand to abolish celibacy in the Catholic Church. He also cites not only figures as justification.

In addition to calling for the abolition of celibacy, he demanded in the "Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung" (Thursday) to talk "openly about the equal participation of women in all offices and tasks in the church".

Pfeffer referred to the latest study by the German Bishops' Conference on the subject of abuse. The researchers problematized celibacy, saying the high proportion of priests among offenders is striking.

Hardly any candidates for the priesthood

But quite apart from the abuse scandal, the church "cannot close its eyes to the fact that we can hardly find candidates for the priesthood anymore". There are many reasons for this, he said, "but it would be naive to think that celibacy is not one of them". That is why he has sympathy for the demand for its abolition.

According to Pfeffer, the researchers also point out how difficult celibacy is to live by. For example, they criticized the fact that in the church celibacy is referred to as a "gift," although attachment and sexuality are very central needs for every human being. "Anyone who wants to live like this needs a high level of human maturity." But the researchers doubted that priests would be sufficiently prepared for celibacy. "I can confirm from my history that during my training, the many ies of celibacy were hardly addressed," Pfeffer said.

Theologically "highly charged" question

The priesthood for women is a theologically "highly charged" ie, Pfeffer said, because tradition carries enormous weight in the Catholic Church. That Jesus called only men to his apostolic circle is 2000 years later "an argument that is difficult to put across" to exclude women from central offices.

"People are already running away from us in droves," the clergyman said. "It is of existential importance for us that people do not constantly think that the church is from the day before yesterday and not capable of any changes."

Pfeffer also distanced himself from Pope Francis' comparison of abortion to murder for hire. A woman in pregnancy conflict is in a highly dramatic situation, he said. "There I see for me as a man who has never become a father, no right at all to make a drastic moral judgment," said the vicar general. There he holds it with another word of Francis, that the church must not throw its morals like a boulder on the people.

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