Acceptable reading for bishops.
Credit: Christof Stache

BERLIN -- German bishops were left hot under the dog collar after it emerged last month that a publisher co-owned by 12 of Germany's Catholic dioceses was a prolific producer of "erotic fiction."

The German Bishops' Conference has now ordered executives at the Weltbild publishing company to sell their stake "without delay," the church authority said in a statement on Tuesday.

The bishops referred to "media that contradicted the ideals of the shareholders," by which they presumably mean the more than 2,500 titles that until recently appeared in the "erotic" section of Weltbild's website.

They're hardly books you'd expect to find next to The Lives of the Saints. According to The Local, titles included "Boarding School for Sluts" and "The Lawyer's Whore."

After the risqué catalogue became public the Church quickly tried to stop Weltbild selling any more "potentially pornographic content," but the company argued it should be allowed to give its customers what they wanted, said Deutsche Welle.

Weltbild defines its publications as "erotic" rather than "pornographic," DW noted, and points out that they account for just 0.017 percent of its total income.

Nonetheless, the Church has now decided to turn the page on the whole embarassing chapter - possibly in connection with Pope Benedict XVI's recent order to "energetically limit the dissemination of pornogrpahic or erotic content."

Cardinal of Cologne Joachim Meisner, whose diocese sold its shares in Weltbild three years ago, said:

"We cannot earn money all week long with what we preach against on Sundays."

Back to the Bible it is then.

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