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Scene from CAN LOVE REALLY BE A SIN? (photo © Saara Aila Waasner)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 03/2011

Posing the titular question, CAN LOVE REALLY BE A SIN? (KANN DENN LIEBE SÜNDE SEIN?), the film takes an in-depth look at the fate of three Roman Catholic priests who are no longer permitted to follow their calling because they have chosen to live in partnership, eschewing celibacy. It examines both the radical changes they faced by falling in love and the enormous challenges involved in starting afresh, both professionally and privately.

The basic problem is, of course, celibacy: a basic obligation to which all Catholic priests must adhere. They either have to keep their relationship secret or come out publicly, and then no longer be allowed to remain in office and perform church functions. Damned if they do, damned if they don't, many priests are thus forced to keep their status a permanent secret.

Just how many Catholic priests have founded a family or are living in a secret relationship can only be speculated upon, but the number is certainly high. At present, there are 10,500 men officiating as priests in Germany. Each year, an estimated 30 of them resign from office because they wish to marry or acknowledge their relationship. Only the very few actually make this decision. The majority who are in relationships are not ready to take this final step. But what is it like, how is it possible to love in secret?

Because living a double life is the most common situation, CAN LOVE REALLY BE A SIN? also narrates the story of one woman who was the lover of a Roman Catholic priest for eight years. After much agonizing and debating, he decided against the relationship and returned to a life of celibacy. The film also allows the other excommunicated priests' new partners to have their say.

By featuring the women's perspective, writer-director Saara Aila Waasner adds an important facet to the film, giving voice to those who represent the desires, hopes and especially the challenges that have to be overcome in such secrecy.

Genre Religion, Society
Category Documentary
Director Saara Aila Waasner
Screenplay Saara Aila Waasner
Cinematography Eva Maschke
Producer Caroline Daube
Production Company Royal Pony Film/Munich
Shooting Dates December 2010-July 2011
With backing from FilmFernsehFonds Bayern

Royal Pony Film GmbH & Co KG
Holzstr. 30
80469 Munich/Germany
phone +49-89-21 26 95 67
fax +49-89-21 26 95 74