The largest German publisher, Weltbild (Worldview) Publishing Group, which is owned by the Roman Catholic Church of Germany, was discovered to be offering pornographic novels as well as books dealing with the occult and magic, and a group of Catholics alleges this has been going on for over a decade.
A book publishing journal, Buchreport (Book Report) revealed in mid-October that the company was offering an array of erotic prose, including titles like Call Me Slut!, Boarding School for Sluts (Schlampeninternat) or A Lawyer's Whore (the titles were translated from German by The Christian Post and might not correspond with potential English editions). The covers of these books could easily be described as lewd, as they feature scantily clad women and provocative graphics.
An article published on the journal's website on Oct. 14, and titled "Erotic books with Weltbild.de: Under the covers," speaks of the methods that online booksellers use to filter out titles that are pornographic or right-wing automatically, by using keywords. These methods have failed in the case of Weltbild, or at least such was the official line of defense of the Catholic-owned publisher, according to German newspaper Die Welt.
But some Catholic whistle blowers in Germany allege that the porn novel trading has been going on for over 10 years. One of them, the author of the Die Welt article and editor of the Catholic magazine PUR, Bernhard Müller, claims that a group of concerned Catholics sent the publisher-related church representatives in 2008 a 70-page report expressing concern over the nature of some of the books offered by Weltbild.
Müller writes that the publisher also listed books promoting Satanism and magic. The church reportedly did not respond to these complains at the time, and the archbishop of Munich sent a reply to Müller, declining to take action.
The materials sent by whistle blowers also reportedly included documentation allegedly proving that church representatives made a lot of money from that part of their business.
Today, the company has 6,400 employees and annual sales of over $2.33 billion, making it the second biggest bookseller in the country after Amazon, according to Müller.
The journalist also accused the bishops of hypocrisy as well as wasting church tax money on such unethical endeavors. In his article, he writes that only after the case became publicized by national media last month, did church authorities acknowledge the issue and express a readiness to take action.
"The sudden proclaimed astonishment of many church leaders that pornographic material is being distributed by their publishing house, is acting – bad acting," Mr Müller wrote. "Believers have been complaining to their bishops about this for years."
The news evoked quite a scandal in Germany, making the front pages of many mainstream newspapers.
Catholic bishops have reportedly responded with a statement claiming that they "will put a stop to the distribution of possibly pornographic content in future."