News Headlines > Gay head of church after-school club reinstated after law change

Gay head of church after-school club reinstated after law change

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The lesbian head of a Caritas after-school centre in Holzkirchen, in Bavaria, who lost her job after announcing that she and her partner wanted to enter a same sex civil partnership, has been reinstated under the new German church labour law.

In April, 23 of Germany’s 27 dioceses voted in favour of revising the labour laws, under which church employees could be dismissed if they did not comply with Catholic moral teaching. Remarried divorcees and gays in civil partnerships were most at risk.

“The point [of the revised law] is to limit the consequences of remarriage or same-sex unions to the most serious cases,” Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, one of the first to welcome the new law, said.

Whether or not the new law is enforced in a diocese remains up to the diocesan bishop. The bishops of Passau, Regensburg and Eichstätt have opted out. They fear the new law will lead to even greater secularisation.

The German Church is Germany’s second largest employer, with 700,000 employees.

Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau criticised the reforms, saying the details were “too vague". "Even with new rules, our procedures will be checked less often and accurately, especially in areas where pressure is intense and it's difficult to find manpower," he added.

The change to the labour law, which coincided with German Church calls for liberalisation of Catholic teaching at next October's Synod on the Family in Rome, were welcomed by the lay Central Committee of German Catholics.

In a Facebook message, Bishop Oster said he and the bishops of Eichstatt and Regensburg were currently discussing "if and how to implement the amendment", with "sporadic modifications". He added that the German Church's employment roster had grown sevenfold in the last half-century from just 100,000, at a time when church attendance had plummeted, which underlined the need to "secure the Catholic profile of ecclesiastical institutions".


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