23-November-2011 -- Catholic News Agency |

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German Bishops To Quickly Sell Shares In Porn Publisher


BERLIN, GERMANY, November 22 (CNA) .- The Catholic Church in Germany says it will act "without delay" to sell its stake in a publishing company that offers pornography among its products.

"We cannot earn money during the week with what we preach against on Sundays," Cardinal Joachim Meisner told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper Nov. 22.

The Weltbild Publishing Group is one of Germany's largest publishers, with an annual income of $2.2 billion dollars, nearly 6,500 staff and book stores on the main street of many German towns and cities. However, it also publishes and distributes nearly 2,500 pornographic titles, largely through their Internet sites.

At present, 12 of Germany's 27 dioceses own just over 24 percent of the shares in the publishing firm. Some dioceses have already divested themselves of their stock in recent years, including the Archdiocese of Cologne which is led by Cardinal Meisner.

Today's announcement comes only weeks after Pope Benedict XVI criticized the German bishops for their investments.

"The time has come to take an energetic stance against prostitution and the widespread availability of erotic and pornographic material, also on the Internet," he told the new German ambassador to the Holy See on Nov. 7.

"The Holy See will ensure that the Catholic Church in Germany takes clear and decisive initiatives against this form of abuse," promised the Pope.

The news of the Church's involvement in the pornography business broke just days before the Pope's intervention. Initially, the German bishops issued a statement that said a "filtering system failure" at the publishing house had allowed the pornographic books to stray onto the market.

However, Berhard Müller, the editor of the German Catholic magazine PUR told the media Nov. 6 that a group of concerned Catholics sent 70-page document to the bishops in 2008 that he said contained evidence Weltbild was publishing pornography as well as books on Satanism and magic. They requested that such publications be stopped right away. "Believers have been complaining to their bishops about this for years," said Müller.

In a Nov. 22 statement, Weltbild said it welcomed the decision of the bishops as it had been impossible to "adequately restrict the internet-supported dissemination and production of media that contradicted the ideals of the shareholders."

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