Almost 15 years ago, anselm bilgri made national headlines because he left the famous monastery of andechs and resigned from the benedictine order. One reason he no longer wanted to be a monk, he says today, was the celibacy. In his new book, the 64-year-old now calls for the abolition of forced celibacy for catholic priests. It is called "with all love.
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Question: mr. Bilgri, why did you write this book??
Answer: occasion of two upcoming synods in rome. Now in the fall, the synod of bishops is about the church's youth ministry. And from my point of view, the issue of ecclesiastical professions, colibacy and recruitment problems must be addressed. And next spring the so-called amazonas synod will take place, where the bishops from the amazonas region will meet and hopefully make courageous proposals to the pope – such as the abolition of the colibate and the ordination of proven men, the so-called viri probati.
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Francis encourages the bishops to make creative and courageous proposals – and I thought that maybe the bishops could also be encouraged with such a book. But that is of course utopian.
Question: what do you think is the problem with celibacy??
Answer: in my book I speak of a luge of the church. She is sucking up to herself by making a demand that has always been difficult to meet. And today, in our time, when sexuality is not a taboo subject, it is even more difficult. The celibacy is supposed to be a sign that points to the beyond, where there is no more marriage. But this sign is no longer understood by the people – on the contrary, because many priests are forced to live their sexual feelings in secret.
Question: how many priests actually manage to persevere??
Answer: there is an estimate that one third of the priests are heterosexually active, one third are homosexual and one third try honestly to keep it up. But it is precisely the conservative ones who are particularly strict with themselves who realize at some point that it doesn't work – and that often makes them even more bitter because they are under constant pressure of conscience.
Question:is celibacy to blame for the lack of priests??
Answer: also. When joseph ratzinger was ordained a priest, 40 or 50 priests were ordained with him in freising – three this year. That's certainly also due to our sacularized society, but it's also due to the church's family policy of the past 50 years. Those who still become priests today want a catholic milieu that no longer exists. That's why young priests today are generally very conservative.
Question: you yourself realized that celibacy was not for you – and you left the monastery. Have you ever regretted this step??
Answer: no. But the 30 years in the monastery were also a good time. I have never repented of entering or leaving the church.
ON THE PERSON:
Anselm Bilgri was not yet 30 years old when joseph ratzinger, the future pope, ordained him priest in 1980. For years afterward, bilgri worked as the head of the economy of the andechs monastery – until he was passed over in the abbot's election. When he left the monastery and the benedictine order in 2004, he made headlines nationwide. Today bilgri lives in munich. He works as a business consultant, gives lectures, teaches at the university of munich – and writes books.