Schepers wants to be a networker for queer people

First bishop for queer pastoral care sees opening of the church

Köln - Up to now, the church has suppressed queer issues, says the person responsible at the German Bishops' Conference, Auxiliary Bishop Ludger Schepers from Essen. This is now set to change - and he is already seeing a shift.

Published  on 05.03.2024 at 18:47  – 

The German Bishops' Conference's first commissioner for queer pastoral care, Auxiliary Bishop Ludger Schepers (70) from Essen, recognises a change in his church. His appointment is a starting signal for more openness to queer issues in the Catholic Church, he said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio (Tuesday). "In the coming months, there will certainly be a lot of things that can be openly discussed." So far, the Church has suppressed such topics for various reasons, said Schepers. The church's teachings state that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their gender orientation. Many queer people also want to live their faith and not write off the church. He wants to act as a networker for them in his new office.

According to Schepers, there are already church groups that deal with queer issues. Building on the Synodal Path reform project, these approaches should now be pursued further. In many dioceses, there are already addresses that queer people or people with questions on the topic can turn to. His task is also to clarify what gay, lesbian, trans or queer actually means. Prejudices and fears can only be allayed if people talk about them and offer educational programmes. The auxiliary bishop also sees the papal authorisation for the blessing of homosexual couples as an opening by the Vatican.

Bible does not condemn homosexuality in principle

The Church must be able to give people an answer to queer questions, Schepers explained. However, the German Bishops' Conference should not act as a teacher in the universal church. Germany, too, has not been on a tolerant path towards queer people for long. However, the German Church could point out that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality in principle. It should be made clear that traditional values such as responsibility in a partnership and reliability are gender-neutral.

At their spring meeting in February, the German bishops appointed Schepers as their commissioner for queer pastoral care. The English word queer refers to people who are not heterosexual or whose gender identity does not conform to social role models. Among them, people with same-sex orientation are probably the largest group. Schepers was born on 18 April 1953 in Oberhausen-Osterfeld. He was ordained a priest in Essen in 1979. He has been an auxiliary bishop in the Ruhr diocese since 2008. (KNA)