A German priest has announced that he is no longer a Catholic, citing his disappointment at the lack of reforms in the Church and admitting to having broken his promise of celibacy. Andreas Sturm, former vicar general of the diocese of Speyer in southwestern Germany, made the announcement on May 13, reports CNA Deutsch.
Sturm, who said he has joined the Old Catholic community in Germany, said he had “little by little lost hope and confidence that the Roman Catholic Church could truly transform itself.”
“At the same time,” he adds, “I see how much hope is placed in ongoing processes such as the Synodal Path. But I am no longer in a position to equally proclaim and honestly and sincerely share that hope, because I simply no longer have it.”
The former vicar general indicated the most important subjects which, according to him, are not really being addressed: “the ordination of women to the priesthood, the abolition of compulsory celibacy, the management of homosexual persons, the co-direction of laity, blessing ceremonies for homosexuals, and overall sexual morality in the Church.”
He states this even though the participants of the German Synodal Path voted in favor of draft texts asking for blessings for people of the same sex and changes to the catechism on homosexuality, as well as for women priests.
Admitting in a Mannheimer Morgen interview to having broken his promise of celibacy, Sturm said he had long doubted that the Catholic Church was “a good choice for me,” even in the seminary and as a pastor of souls.
“But in the vicar general's office, it was easier for me to reflect on those doubts and think about resigning,” said Sturm, who led the diocese of Speyer for several months during his bishop's prolonged absence for health reasons.
In several interviews with German newspapers, Sturm said he was going to write a book about his experience. The title of the publication, slated for release in June, is I Must Get Out of This Church, with the subtitle, “Because I Want to Stay Human. A vicar general speaks.”
According to a press release from the publisher, Herder, Sturm said, “For me, there has never been anything but the Roman Catholic Church and my life in and with her. But I have wondered for some time if I am not co-dependent on this Church. This image came to my mind because people keep writing to me: ‘Thanks to you, I will not leave the Church.’ But is that what I want?”
The Old Catholic community, present mainly in the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, separated from the Church after the First Vatican Council, because of their refusal to recognize papal infallibility in dogmatic matters. In Old Catholic communities, women can be ordained, remarriage after divorce is possible, and same-sex unions are blessed.
Sturm is not the only German Catholic figure to join the Old Catholics. There is the case of Anselm Bilgri, former prior of Andechs Abbey who left the Church and joined the Old Catholics in 2020. He has since celebrated his “union” with a man.
Frank Ewerszumrode, a former Dominican friar, joined the Old Catholics several months ago. He previously taught Catholic theology at various colleges and universities. Like Bilgri, Ewerszumrode is openly gay, CNA Deutsch reported.
There were an estimated 15,500 Old Catholics in the community's sole German diocese in 2017.
Matthias Ring, the bishop of the Old Catholics in Germany, said in April that there had been a general resurgence of interest among German Catholics, according to katholisch.de, a site funded and operated by the German bishops' conference.
This revival is unfortunately likely to strengthen with the quasi-constituted German schism and the deep disappointments that the situation will not fail to arouse, when the false promises of the Synodal Path appear in their inconsistency and vanity. Those responsible will not have to look very far.