No more snooping into the private lives of religious education teachers

Catholic religious education teachers still have to fear for their jobs if they come out as members of the LGBTI community. Even remarriage after divorce can cost them their job. This is to change in future, as the German Bishops' Conference announced last Tuesday.

Already at the end of January, the Permanent Council of the Bishops' Conference had adopted the new "Model Regulations for the Granting of the Missio canonica". This guideline determines under which conditions teachers may give Catholic religious instruction at schools. According to the preamble, one of their tasks is to "bear witness to the Christian life in school and teaching". The paper goes on to say: "All teachers of religion are called upon to give such a witness to Christian life, regardless of their origin, age, disability, personal life situation, sexual orientation or gender identity." In future, teachers are also to be allowed "theologically based criticism and doubt".

The Granting of a Missio Canonica.
Teaching by word and example no longer applies

The new guideline thus differs considerably from the strict regulation from 1973 that is currently still in force, which requires teachers to observe "Catholic principles in the conduct of personal life".

Observers see the relaxations in connection with a dissatisfied mood within the teaching community. In a survey of 2,300 religious education teachers at grammar schools and vocational schools last year, 91 per cent of respondents saw major differences between their personal convictions and doctrinal issues such as sexuality, women in office and power structures. 81 per cent said their identification with the official church had declined in recent years. 34 percent occasionally thought about leaving the church, 9 percent even seriously considered leaving.

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However, the relaxations are still only on paper. They will not be introduced across the whole of Germany, but will be implemented by each individual bishop for his own diocese.