Church volunteers strike over male-only priests, celibacy, sex

Church volunteers who are members of the German Catholic women’s movement Maria 2.0 have launched a week-long strike.

They are holding rites without priests outside churches and suspending voluntary church work and ministries in 50 parishes in protest over the male-only priesthood, celibacy and the church’s slow response to sex scandals.

Masses and committees will be unattended, parish housework and liturgical readings – tasks left typically to regular churchgoing women – will be left aside.

The central protest will be outdoors in Münster on Sunday.

One of the strike’s initiators, Andrea Voss-Frick, says the Maria 2.0 movement (named for Our Lady) began this year at a women’s parish bible meeting.

She says in the women’s opinion, the Vatican’s pronouncements and church teachings of hope “didn’t come across at all” amid abuse and cover-ups.

On Friday, two nationwide groups – the Catholic German Women’s League (KDFB) and the Catholic Women’s Community of Germany (KfD) – described the strike call as an “important signal” and urged bishops not to ignore it.

The KDFB says abuse cases and cover-ups by priests have slid the church into deep crisis and credibility loss.

They say the striking women want to show how much the church and its evangelical “gospel” means to them.

Thomas Steinberg, president of the Central Council of German Catholics (ZdK) came out in support of the women at the Council’s lay convention in Mainz on Friday.

“Without the women nothing happens,” he said.

The ZdK says it voted to pursue a “synodic path” at talks with the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference to tackle the decades of pent-up frustration over a lack of reforms on power structures and sexual mores.

In Steinberg’s view changes are unavoidable. He thinks women will at least be licensed to become deaconesses and married men priests.

“Never before have I experienced a situation in which indignation extended so far into the core of our churches,” Steinberg says.


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