Catholic women in Germany want more sway in church

Catholic women in Germany increased their demand for more sway in the Church, as a new leader of the Catholic Church in Germany was being elected this week.

Women’s rights advocates presented the German Bishops Conference with a petition with over 130,000 signatures calling for more women in leadership roles.

Dozens of women also gathered outside Mainz Cathedral, where the conference is taking place, to show their support for the “Maria 2.0” (“Mary 2.0”) movement.

Bishops and other officials from Germany’s 27 Catholic archdioceses had gathered to discuss key church issues and to elect outgoing conference chairman cardinal Reinhard Marx’s successor.

Marx’s successor must “lead into the modern world, into the equality that is lived in Europe and in many countries around the world,” Mechthild Heil, federal chairwoman of the Catholic Women’s Community of Germany, said.

If the new spokesperson for the Catholic bishops is not willing to reform, “that would be the worst thing for us,” Heil said.

She explained the protesters do not “want to divide, but are the core of those who carry the Catholic Church”.

“We have not made any progress at all in terms of gaining leadership roles within the church,” Heil said.

“We carry the local congregations. I think it’s quite natural that we want to take on responsibility and thus also power,” she added.

Responding to the petition, Marx said he would do his “utmost to make sure that this issue doesn’t get sidelined”.

The Bishop of Mainz Peter Kohlgraf has suggested that a woman could be appointed nationally to lead the conference’s administerial department.

“We could also have a woman leading the secretariat of the German Bishops Conference. That would be an important sign that women could get into management positions,” Kohlgraf suggested.

Traditionally, a priest occupies the role.

Besides electing a new chairman of the Bishops’ Conference, a leader for the administration office was also on the Conference agenda.


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