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With potentially far-reaching consequences, the bishops of Germany
have voted by more than a two-thirds majority to relax Church labor laws
to allow civilly remarried employees or those living in same-sex unions
to retain their jobs with Church institutions.
In an announcement
Tuesday, the German bishops’ conference in Bonn said the majority of
bishops had ruled that immediate dismissal will only be a “last resort”
for employees who are divorced and subsequently “remarry” or those
living in a registered partnership.
Until now, such employees were required to be dismissed from such
employment, although the rules were often ignored. The Church is the
second-largest employer in Germany.
“An automatic dismissal may now in future be ruled as out of the
question,” said Alois Glück, president of the Central Committee of
German Catholics, the country’s top lay Catholic organization. From now
on, he said, any public violation of loyalty to Church teachings must be
examined on a case-by-case basis.
The amendment, when enacted by a bishop, explicitly overturns a 2002
ecclesiastical law, which stipulated that all Church employees need to
be loyal to the magisterium. Glück said the change “represents a
substantial paradigm shift in the application of ecclesiastical law,”
adding that the new regulation will “open the way” for decisions to be
made in accordance with “human justice.”