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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Cologne Cardinal fires gay theologian

Katholische Kirche: Kardinal Meisner entzieht schwulem Theologen die Lehrerlaubnis | Gesellschaft | ZEIT ONLINE:

The Cologne Archbishop Joachim Meisner has withdrawn the license to teach from the gay author David Berger . The 77-year-old cardinal said on Thursday that Berger's criticism of the church had destroyed his confidence in Berger.

Berger made sharp criticisms of the Church in his book Der heilige Schein (Cathcon- double meaning- The Halo or The Holy Sham). The 43-year-old told of a "Catholic Jihad" and of the increasing influence of the ultra-conservatives on the whole church .

"It is the overall impression," said Meisner’s spokesman, Christoph Heckeley.

"With any other employer, the situation would lead to consequences. It would be as if a bank employee said publicly. "I am not good at sums, and with bank statements, I am also not quite accurate".

Berger says his sacking goes back to the pressure from extremely conservative forces who have organized petitions and even demanded the death penalty for homosexuals. "That shocked me the most." He cited several sites among them and . commented on the withdrawal of permission to teach by saying: "Now the gay has got what he wanted," and described Berger as "disturbed".

Berger denied that he had attacked the Catholic Church as such. "My book is not different from Catholic teaching, I wrote it out of love of the Church." He criticizes only specific abuses within the church, and this is the task of every member of the Catholic laity. Berger will now teach his second subject of German at the Ville-Gymnasium in Erfstadt near Cologne.

The Parliamentary secretary for the Green Party, Volker Beck, criticized the decision, "Meisner takes away the responsibilities of an accomplished theologian , just because he does not live asexually. If the Catholic Church had only have been half as consistent in the cases of sexual abuse. " With the right-wing Society of St Pius X the cardinal has no problems - he makes further concessions to them in the archdiocese. The reform movement "We Are Church" protested against the dismissal.

Meisner is one of the most conservative of German bishops and in the Archdiocese of Cologne, he is known to act harshly with critics. A source told dpa that homosexuality in this case is the real reason for the withdrawal of the permission to teach, while on tactical grounds Meisner likes to choose another ground so as not to encounter much opposition within the church. To openly live out homosexuality is for the Cardinal unacceptable.

Berger inititally made a career in the Catholic Church and enjoyed a good reputation especially in conservative circles . In 2003, he joined the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas and and edited the journal Theologisches, mostly read by traditionalists. However, because of the "demonization" of homosexuals, he resigned and in 2010 published the book  Der heilige Schein, which attracted huge media attention.

Cathcon comment-  met Dr Berger once- at weekend organised by the Society of St Pius X  on the differences between modern and scholastic philosophy.   His work on Thomistic philosophy is of a very high quality, as witnessed by this 2004 book on St Thomas and the Liturgy.

Interview in Spiegel (English) from last year

TV debate (German) between Dr Berger and the formidable Gabrielle Kuby Lively!
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