Cardinal Hollerich urges patience on women’s ordination

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich has cautioned against hastiness in the debate over women’s ordination in the Catholic Church.

In an interview with, the Luxembourg archbishop stressed “If you attack too much, you won’t achieve much. You have to be cautious, take one step at a time, and then you might be able to go very far”.

As the General Relator in the synodal process of the universal Church, Hollerich highlighted that the synod focuses on listening rather than politicising.

The Jesuit commented that the issue of the ordination of women is not an infallible doctrinal decision. “It can be changed. It needs arguments and time.”

Hollerich said he would be delighted if women felt fully equal in the church. “Whether that happens through the priesthood or not is something that time will tell.”

What is important now is “that women are given more responsibility”.

Addressing the criteria for ordination, Hollerich noted that vocation alone is not sufficient. He acknowledged that while men’s vocations are scrutinised, women’s are not, which can appear as structural discrimination – especially from a European perspective.

The Catholic Church will fall apart

He pointed out that the Church must consider global perspectives, where community often takes precedence over individualism.

The cardinal explained that the objection that appointed women should take a back seat is “based on a typically European principle of the individual. Many societies don’t think like that at all – the community comes before the individual”.

Hollerich warned against imposing European individualistic principles on the global Church, which could be seen as neo-colonialist and provoke a backlash.

According to Hollerich, the global church must consider different mentalities. “We have to have these discussions with the whole church, otherwise we will have huge problems later. Then the Catholic Church will fall apart.”

Cardinal Hollerich concluded: “It’s not the evil Vatican that insists on these positions and doesn’t want to change anything.” There would be “a storm in other continents if it were to introduce the female priesthood tomorrow” and the Vatican would have to back down.

This has already been experienced with the comparatively “small matter” that same-sex couples can now be blessed in church.


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