“It is clear” that current opportunities for women in the Church are “not enough”, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich has lamented.
– “I don’t know” if women should be priests… “But I’m open to it”
“I am not saying that women have to become priests; I just don’t know. But I’m open to it. It is clear, however, that the current situation is not enough. One must see and realise that women have a say in the Church”, Cardinal Hollerich, the Archbishop of Luxembourg, told German news agency KNA in a September 13 interview.
Hollerich, who is also the president of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, was responding to a question on which of the four topics of the German Church’s ‘synodal path’ reform process – the separation of powers in Catholicism, Catholic sexual morality, compulsory priestly celibacy or the role of women in the institution – he considers the most important.
“The position of women in the Church”, the cardinal answered.
– Support for the German Church’s ‘synodal path’: “Very big questions” on Church reform “have to be asked”
Asked for more thoughts on the German Church’s renewal process, Hollerich explained that “I have great respect for the fact that people dare to ask very big questions; they have to be asked”.
The cardinal continued by saying that if he had a doubt about the synodal path it would be whether answers to those “very big questions” on possible Church reform “can be given in a single country or whether a European synod would not be needed in time”.
“When I see individual German bishops thinking about blessings for homosexual couples and hear what bishops in Poland have to say on such issues, it becomes difficult”, Hollerich admitted.
In that sense the cardinal observed that Churches in different places “often think too nationally, referring to the situation in their respective countries. We need to exchange more”.
– Sadness over Brexit: The behaviour of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “has populist traits”
Another point Hollerich touched on in his interview with KNA was the new encyclical, Fratelli tutti, that Pope Francis is due to sign October 3 in Assisi. “I prefer to say: “Fratelli e sorelle tutti“, that is: brothers and sisters all”, the cardinal revealed.
The Luxembourg archbishop also referred to the challenges of COVID-19 for the Church, and specifically to the widespread drop-off in the number of faithful returning to in-person Masses.
“We need new forms of evangelisation, not a restoration of previous conditions”, the cardinal highlighted with regard to the Church’s mission post-pandemic, urging priests and bishops “to proclaim the message of the gospel with word and deed, the care of Jesus for people”.
“If you live this with conviction, it also changes structures and creates new ministries in the Church”, Hollerich explained.
In the wake of the tragic fires in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, the cardinal stressed that the swift reception of refugees by European countries “is not only the line of Pope Francis, but also that of the gospel”.
“I am committed to this and cannot say anything else. There are bishops who see refugees as a threat, but from a gospel point of view that cannot be my first reaction”, Hollerich stressed.
With regard, finally, to the ongoing tensions between the United Kingdom and the EU over Brexit, the cardinal admitted that the stand-off “hurts me. I have problems understanding when treaties are no longer respected, because the foundations of cooperation are called into question”
“I don’t want to imply that Prime Minister Johnson is a populist, but his behaviour has populist traits”, the COMECE president deplored, adding that “such dangerous tendencies can be very damaging to the world order”.
“I hope that EU and UK citizens will remain friends and not smash too much china” in the process of Brexit, Hollerich reflected.