MUNICH, May 7, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) – The German bishops have voted to allow those in gay civil unions or in adulterous second marriages to remain Church employees.
All 27 dioceses in Germany participated in the vote, with more than two thirds voting in favor of relaxing the rule. The vote took place in spite of the fact that the Church has protection under the law if it wishes to fire an employee leading a life not in conformity with Catholic teaching.
Last year, a Catholic hospital in Germany fired a doctor after he contracted a second civil marriage. The doctor sued for wrongful termination, but last fall the German court ruled in favor of the hospital's right to terminate the employee. The Catholic hospital had argued that all its employees should be expected to lead lives consistent with Catholic teaching, and those who failed in this regard should not remain employees.
In spite of this legal protection, the German bishops are moving in a more progressive direction based on what they deem “the multiple changes in legal practice, legislation and society.”
After the revised labor rule was announced Tuesday, the head of the Central Committee of German Catholics applauded the decision. “The new rule opens the way for decisions that do justice to the situations people live in,” said Alois Gluick, head of the committee.
Clarifying when an employee could be fired from a Catholic institution, the German bishops cited instances of racism, advocacy of abortion, or officially leaving the Church, which would count as “a grave breach of loyalty.”
The German Church makes billions each year off the Church tax, which takes eight percent of one's annual income. One must be listed officially with the government as Catholic in order for the Church to claim a right to this tax. The German bishops are keen on keeping this money; last year they threatened that Catholics who officially leave the Church — and thus stop paying the Church tax — would be denied the sacraments. And just last month, it was reported that the German Church is suing a soccer player for nearly 2 million euros in three years' worth of back taxes.