Cardinal Reinhard Marx has said that the custom of allowing only priests to give sermons needs to “evolve”. Laypeople should be able to preach at Mass, he declared.

Driving the news

Cardinal Marx met Saturday with a group of 120 laypeople at the retreat house Schloss Fürstenried.

The Archbishop of Munich and Freising admitted he feels a “little bit disappointed” with the sermons in some parishes.

“What will homilies be like in the future?”, asked Marx, President of the German Bishops’ Conference

“May only the priest preach? This needs to evolve”, affirmed Marx, one of Pope Francis’ closest collaborators.

Among the People of God, “talents are different”, said the cardinal. “Shall we not say: he who has a talent, let him speak?”

Furthermore, Marx suggested that preaching could involve testimonies or visual material to give “greater variety to sermons”.

Also, the cardinal admitted in the meeting with laypeople that he says his prayers from an iPad.


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The intrigue

Marx’s comments on letting laypeople preach at Mass came one day after the German Church reported a loss of 216,078 people last year. It is the German Church’s greatest annual drop in numbers since the Second World War.

The cardinal’s call also comes a week after the official website of the German bishops,, called for women especially to be tasked not only “with the proclamation of the Word of God, but also with its exegesis”.

“Perhaps this could even become the path up to a Church of brothers and sisters: men as servants at the Table of the Sacrament, and women as servants at the Table of the Word?”, read the commentary in

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One level deeper

Cardinal Marx, who is part of the C6, the group of cardinals advising Pope Francis, has a reputation for being one of the Church’s most progressive leaders.

In 2015, he called for the Church to “seriously consider” the possibility of admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist.

In 2018, the cardinal affirmed that the Church should “bless” same-sex partnerships. He also led the initiative of the German bishops to admit Protestants to the Catholic Eucharist.

Also, Cardinal Marx is currently steering the German Church through a “binding synodal process”.

In consultation with bishops, priests and laity, the goal of the process is to re-examine the Church’s teaching on three key issues arising from the clergy sex abuse crisis: priestly celibacy, the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, and a reduction of clerical power.

Go deeper on Novena:

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.