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Franciscans in Germany elect openly gay priest as new superior

Franciscan friars line the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem./ Shutterstock

The 300-member Franciscan province of Saint Elisabeth in Germany has elected as its new superior Father Markus Fuhrmann, who a few weeks ago publicly came out as homosexual.

In an interview with MK-Online, the official news website of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Fuhrmann explained why he went public with his homosexuality.

“If I am gay myself, then I want to show that I can also be part of the Church in this ministry. That's important because it's not supposed to be like that in the Church. Unfortunately, there is too much institutional hypocrisy in our Church,” he said.

In addition, the new Franciscan superior said that he “personally supports the efforts of the Synodal Way, I am in favor of a critical rethinking of celibacy in the priestly way of life and I am in favor of women having access to ordained ministries.”

The Synodal Way is a controversial multi-year process that began in December 2019 and involves bishops and lay people from Germany to address issues such as the exercise of power, sexual morality, the priesthood, and the role of women in the Church, issues on which they have expressed, publicly and on various occasions, positions contrary to Catholic doctrine.

Asked about the fact that his Franciscan brothers knew of his homosexuality at the time of his election, the new German superior said that "it was very good for me to know that this is very positive for the brothers."

He added, “I get a lot of encouragement, and maybe that spark of appreciation can spread to other areas of the Church. I think that's good.”

Father Markus Fuhrmann (third from left) with the new authorities of the Franciscans in Germany. Courtesy of OFM.org.

Fuhrmann was born on August 9, 1971, in Hannover, the capital of Lower Saxony, Germany. He made his simple vows in 1998 and his solemn profession in 2003. He was ordained a priest on May 7, 2005.

In Cologne, part of Saint Elizabeth Province, he ministered to the indigent, and before his election, he served as provincial vicar.

Regarding his future work, the new Franciscan superior in Germany told MK-Online that "a big change is imminent, and I want and must shape it together with the brothers."

The Church's teaching on homosexuality

Catholic teaching on homosexuality is summarized in sections 2357, 2358, and 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Church teaches that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

As the catechism explains, “Tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and this inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.”

The catechism states, “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

Providing further guidance, the catechism says, “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

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