Even the Pope urged selling it and on Tuesday, German bishops caved in: the Catholic Church is giving up its stake in Weltbild, a major publishing group that lists books frowned upon by Catholic doctrine.
Theory and practice were too far apart for the church
Weltbild publishing group is co-owned by 12 German dioceses which have now agreed to sell their share in the profitable enterprise as soon as possible. They decided on the move because Weltbild's book range includes steamy pulp novels with titles like "Boarding School for Sluts" and "The Lawyer's Whore" as well as books on esoteric practices.
Cologne Cardinal Joachim Meissner said there was no alternative to selling the publishing group.
"We can't make money all week long with something we condemn from the pulpit on Sunday," he said.
Pope Benedict XIV had also urged Catholics to "oppose the distribution of erotic and pornographic material."
Germany's bishops met this week and pressed the 12 bishops whose dioceses co-own Weltbild, based in the southern city of Augsburg, to end the investment after the company had defended its policy of publishing whatever books meet market demand.
With annual sales of 1.6 billion euros (2.1 billion dollars) and a workforce of 6,400, Weltbild is a major company that publishes books and operates book clubs and a national bookshop chain. Weltbild has denied that it lists "pornographic" literature, saying that the term is clearly defined. It said its erotic literature accounted for just 0.017 percent of its revenue, but church leaders fear a tarnished reputation.
Author: Dagmar Breitenbach (dpa, epd)
Editor: Michael Lawton