The “Queer” Pastoral Care of the German Bishops

The story is appalling, yet I can’t help finding a comic aspect to the German bishops’ announcement that Bishop Ludger Schepers “will be the representative for queer pastoral care.”

On first reading that announcement, I assumed that the phrase “queer pastoral care” was an awkward computer translation. But no, the German original uses the term “Queer-Pastoral.” (Der Essener Weihbischof Ludger Schepers Beauftragter für Queer-Pastoral wird.) A news-service story helpfully informs us: “The English word queer refers to people who are not heterosexual or whose gender identity does not conform to social role models.”

Well, thanks for the explanation. But as it happens I am a native English speaker, familiar with both the dictionary definition of “queer” and the current connotation. My question is why an English word is used in the German announcement.

Could it be that the German episcopal conference chose not to use a German term because it might rouse the indignation of the few older loyal Catholics still remaining in the pews? And perhaps an unfamiliar English word would be enough to forestall protests? Probably not, but the phrase does beg for some sort of explanation.

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