Fr. Prof. Dariusz Oko was sentenced to a fine of EUR 4,800 by a Cologne court for “inciting hatred” against homosexuals as the author of an article published in the theological journal Theologisches. The editor-in-chief of the journal, ninety-year-old German theologian, Fr. Prof. Johannes Stöhr, was also convicted of hate speech. The convictions and penalties were confirmed by Theologisches publisher Manfred Hauke on Tuesday, July 27th.
The article, “Über die Notwendigkeit, homosexuelle Cliquen in der Kirche zu begrenzen” (On the Need to Limit Homosexual Cliques in the Church), analyzed the existence of the “Lavender Mafia” in the Church and whether such a phenomenon led to abuse by clerics such as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
According to Ordo Iuris, the Polish legal advocacy organization that represented Fr. Oko, the article concerned the phenomenon of “an intra-church organized criminal group acting to the detriment of minors … connected by homosexual practices and mutual support of its members.” The article, which contained a detailed bibliography, was written and published “to initiate an academic discussion on a topic so far overlooked in the German ‘Synodal Way.’”
The original complaint to law enforcement agencies stated that the publication engaged in an act of hate speech against homosexual people due to its negative references to practicing homosexual clerics. In response to the complaint, Fr. Oko asked: “Is criticism of the criminal activity of the Sicilian mafia an incitement to hatred against all Sicilians? So how can an academic reflection on the challenge of a criminal network connected with homosexual practices in the Church be an incitement to hatred against all homosexuals?”
Katholischen Nachrichten-Agentur reported that Poland’s national-conservative Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Romanowski sharply condemned the convictions, saying the court “trampled on academic freedom.” Theologiches publisher Hauke defended the article, clarifying that the author did not use the “strong words” to label homosexual people generally” but rather to describe a “mafia-like clique.”
According to a court spokeswoman, Stöhr and Oko have each appealed the court’s decision. A date for appellate hearings has not yet been set.