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Basel offering Catholic Church offers sex workers spiritual guidance

The Josephskirche is the largest Catholic Church in the region. Both canton Basel City and Basel Country will take part in the counseling programme for sex workers

(Keystone)

The Catholic Church in the Basel region will begin a counseling service for prostitutes – the first offering of its kind in the world. 

Beginning in January 2016, church theologian Anne Burgmer, 38, will take on a part-time position talking with sex workers about their concerns and burdens. Burgmer says she will also be available for spiritual and religious guidance. 

However, Burgmer added that she doesn’t intend to try to dissuade the sex workers from their chosen occupation or judge them for it.

The bishop of the Catholic Church in Basel, Felix Gmür, supports the new offering, saying it fits his vision of a church that goes out and serves people – including those with no one to lobby for them. 

The city of Basel alone has more than 3,000 sex workers, many of whom come from South America, the Philippines or Hungary and have a Catholic background. Therefore, Catholic Church representatives said, the sex worker population itself represents a congregation.

The new offering will be called “SiTa”, short for “spiritual welfare for taboos”. In the past, the Catholic Church in Basel has offered similar services to those suffering from AIDS. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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