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German Bishops Say Being Gay Is 'Normal,' Oppose Conversion Therapy

German Bishops Affirm Homosexuality Is ‘Normal,’ Oppose Conversion Therapy

In a statement, church leaders also condemned anti-gay discrimination.

Germany gets it!

Following its twice-annual Commission for Marriage and Family of the German Bishops' Conference, the Archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, issued a press release affirming the consensus opinion of German Catholic leaders that homosexuality is a "normal form of sexual predisposition."

"In the Church's deliberations, this means that any form of discrimination against homosexual people must be rejected," the conference concluded.

Among the conclusions reached by German clergy during the Berlin meeting, Koch claims that church leaders widely agreed that sexual orientation is "expressed in puberty" and "cannot or should not be changed by any specific socialization."

While Koch's statement does not name the practice specifically, it appears to condemn conversion therapy -- a loosely defined range of practices aimed at "curing" the sexual orientation or gender of LGBTQ+ youth. Conversion therapy, which has been widely debunked by leading medical organizations as ineffective and harmful, is illegal in 18 U.S. states. Germany is reportedly moving to ban orientation change efforts.

German bishops also declared that adultery outside the confines of a heterosexual marriage will not "always be qualified as grave sin."

According to the Catholic News Agency, the press release was published following consultation with bishops Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabruck, Wolfgang Ipolt of Gorlitz, and Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz, among others.

December's meeting of the Commission for Marriage and Family of the German Bishops' Conference was held ahead of the German Catholic Church's controversial Synodal Process -- a two-year dialogue in which religious leaders will discuss and debate its local doctrine.

During this time, German bishops will contend with one of the biggest questions left open by the conference: whether the "magisterial ban" on homosexuality will remain in place. Currently, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is a sin and same-sex sexual relations are forbidden by the Bible -- even as Pope Francis has sometimes expressed support for LGBTQ+ people.

No matter the conclusions that religious leaders in Germany come to, the Vatican has already affirmed that it will not change universal church doctrine.

"It is useless for anyone to pretend that the German synod is binding because no one has given that authority to the German synod," Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa, a senior Vatican official, told the Catholic News Agencyin October. "No one can bind the faithful beyond their authority to bind or pastors beyond their authority to bind."

RELATED | Conversion Therapists Could Face Jail Time Under New German Law

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