Gay former monk has dream wedding after being forced to quit Catholic church

Gay former monk Anselm Bilgri wears a suit as he talks to someone off camera after his wedding

Anselm Bilgri, a gay former monk who left the Roman Catholic Church, has married his long-term partner in a beautiful ceremony.

Bilgri was ordained in 1980 by Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and served as head of the Roman Catholic Church until February 2013. He served as a Benedictine monk for decades. 

Bilgri, now 68, left the Catholic Church in 2020 because he was frustrated over the church’s failure to keep with the times because of its stance on same-sex marriage. He was also among several figures to leave the Catholic Church in Germany over abuse scandals.

Bilgri married his partner Markus Achter, 41, in a gorgeous ceremony in a Munich church on (8 October) by an Old Catholic Church priest. The Old Catholic Church allows priests to marry and approves of same-sex relationships. 

The couple told Reuters that they hoped their wedding will help normalise LGBTQ+ relationships and same-sex marriages. 

“I immediately thought: now I have actually received all seven sacraments, from ordination to marriage,” Bilgri said. “And I would like it to become normal.”

He continued: “It goes without saying that two men, two women… It doesn’t always have to have sexual connotations. 

“Maybe they just want to support and help each other. People who want to belong together, which is also a form of love, that this becomes normal and possible.”

Bilgri ran the brewery at a monastery in Munich before he became the prior of the Andechs Abbey, where Benedictine monks have been working and praying on Bavaria’s “Holy Mountain” for hundreds of years. 

The gay former monk converted to the Old Catholic Church and serves as a priest in the community in Germany

Achter thought their wedding is a “very big sign” that same-sex weddings are “becoming more normal”.

“I think that’s a very big sign and that it’s also becoming more normal because you often think that it is not extraordinary when you live in an environment like Munich,” Achter said. “But it is not that normal, and it is still something extraordinary when two men get married.”

Achter continued: “And I always think that if it becomes more and more self-evident, then at some point it will no longer be something special. 

“And that’s where we actually want to go and maybe we have set a sign for that today.”

Pope Francis ceased any hope for same-sex marriages in the Cahtolic Church when he declared in 2021 that the church “doesn’t have the power to change sacraments”

“I have spoken clearly about this, no?” Francis said. “Marriage is a sacrament. Marriage is a sacrament. The church doesn’t have the power to change sacraments. It’s as our Lord established.”

In September, a group of Roman Catholic bishops from Belgium defied the Vatican and allowed the blessings of same-sex unions. The Flemish bishops said the blessing – which includes a ritual of prayers and a commitment for the couple to be faithful to each other – is part of being a “welcoming church that excludes no one”.