Mr. Sturm, this is the question everyone is asking: Was there a defining moment in the past few days that made you resign and leave the Roman Catholic Church?
Andreas Sturm: No, it’s a long-running struggle. I’ve been wondering for a year and a half if this is still really where I am. Then came Bishop’s illness, which at first pushed my subjects far into the background. When he came back, I dealt with it more intensely for really clarity. In February I was sure.
They say it was a process. Can you also find out why?
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Andreas Sturm: A large number of topics have come together. Abuse was a big problem. MHG’s September 2018 study shattered my view of the world.
I’ve always assumed there was abuse in the church, but the fact that there was a higher rate of abuse in the church area and seeing how hard it was to deal with the church was a strong criterion. But the role of women is a topic that concerns me at least as much. I always find that discriminatory.
I think we always try to coat it with sugar, but it can’t be coated with sugar. Because Jesus called only men. We reject the invitations of women. Theologically speaking, there is a lot of research on this area. Instead, we keep making parishes larger because we believe they can only be single men. This brings us to the third topic – the question of celibacy: Are not married men and men living with a man also acceptable?
Is this also a reason for you to leave, because you want to be able to marry or have another type of relationship?
Andreas Sturm: Well, I wrote in my book that there were already relationships in my life and that I also violated my celibacy. Above all, I hurt people, and I’m so sorry about that later. But that is not the reason now. However: Yes, I can imagine living in a relationship. I would find it very satisfying to me. But this is not so important at the moment. I want to stop now and don’t know if there will be a relationship.
You are addressing the book. What kind of book is this?
Andreas Sturm: The book is called: “I must get out of this church because I want to remain human – the priest speaks clearly.” It will be published by Herder Verlag in June. It happened because in the process of discovery I began to jot down the points that were important to me in the church and what I struggled with. When I was writing it, I realized it would be like a book. I never thought of myself as a great writer, but then I tried to talk to the publisher.
I would like to go back to 2018: when your predecessor Franz Jung went to Würzburg as a bishop, were you clear about the job you would take?
Andreas Sturm: No, actually not yet. Of course I knew roughly what to expect. I’ve often said that when my phone rang, there was always a problem. There was always a problem somewhere and we had to move around like a firefighter.
Does this development bother you?
Andreas Sturm: I found it exhausting, but I have to say I have a great team. I’ve never driven to work with a grudge. It’s more of a general context that I couldn’t change anything.
Was Bishop Weissman familiar with her series of ideas?
Andreas Sturm: I opened it a few weeks ago. Anything else would be shabby. Of course he also tried to keep me here.
The ancient Catholics, who you prepare yourself now, aren’t really on the radar. You can also become a Protestant.
Andreas Sturm: I appreciate Protestants very much, but I miss the liturgical structure there. I don’t need a lot of incense, but I like to have it every now and then. I am very catholic. I also did not know the old Catholics for a long time – until I became a chaplain in Landau.