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AACHEN, Germany (ChurchMilitant.com) - A German "carnival" Mass with dancing women, a cross-dressing priest and the giving of Holy Communion to a Protestant minister is drawing criticism.
A video shot by West German Broadcasting (WDR) is showing a February 4 carnival Mass at the parish of St. Gangolf in Heinsberg — described by KathNews as causing "great horror among countless Catholics," adding that "believers expressed their disgust for this blasphemous tastelessness" on social media.
The pastor, Fr. Marcus Bruns, is dressed in a costume and begins by telling the congregation, "We want to start this service a little unfamiliar, different from what you're used to."
The video reveals women in short skirts line dancing into the sanctuary with some being held up or thrown into the air by male dancers.
Willibert Pauels, St. Gangolf's deacon, declares to the congregation he gets a "thievish pleasure" discussing clerical celibacy, maintaining it is "sometimes so dogged as if it were about salvation or damnation." The congregation cheers after he notes that St. Peter — the first pope — was once married, adding, "That's something to think about. Sure thing!"
Later on, Pauels is wearing clown-nose glasses and says, "I can feel what religion actually means." He then muses, "Religion is often abused, either as a guide to education and morality or as a museum which is dusting itself off." He adds, "when religion is well understood, it makes you healthy. Healthy is what brings you to yourself and what puts you ahead of things. Then you will be free and happy."
Protestant Pastor Martin Jordan is shown receiving Holy Communion, remarking afterward, "This is not the first time that I was allowed to receive Communion here in the Catholic church of St. Gangolf." He continues, "There is no stronger sign of coalescence, of interdenominational solidarity than joint celebration."
Father Rene Mertens, dressed like a woman, comments, "It is a deepening of the joy that we carry in our hearts, and when you experience such a service, your heart opens up. You can feel the joy even more that simply connects us, and you can have such a happy day every day if you like.
Bruns called critics of the Fool's Mass "backwards," claiming, "For the faithful in Heinsberg, on the other hand, the Mass was a great experience. We have only received positive feedback."
The diocese of Aachen comments, "Carnival and the Church belong closely together in view of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday. In the Rhineland in particular, the carnival influences the whole life, but the diocese of Aachen wants to talk with the clergymen."
A German Catholic, born and raised in the diocese of Aachen, tells Church Militant, "What has happened here is not an exception but rather the rule." He notes that while there are faithful Catholics in Germany, it "has become a defiant missionary country. This Mass shows perfectly how dead faith often already is."