Austrian Catholic women have joined their sisters in Germany, Switzerland and Italy in demanding equal access to ordained ministry.

Driving the news

Just after the conclusion of the first assembly of the German “synodal path”, the major Catholic women’s associations in Germany, Switzerland and the South Tyrol region in Italy – where German is also spoken – put out a position paper in which they recalled that “we, the German-speaking Catholic women’s associations, have been committed to the renewal of our Church for decades”.

“We believe that people are the image of God. That is why women and men have the same dignity and the same rights”, the women’s associations said.

“Because of gender, there must be no ecclesiastical or social disadvantage. Therefore, women and men must have equal access to all ministries and offices in the Church”, the Catholic women argued.

On February 5, the Catholic Women’s Association of Germany (KFD) announced that the Catholic Women’s Movement in Austria (KFB) had also signed up to the manifesto.

Go deeper

In their position paper, the Catholic women of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Austria celebrated that “as women, we shape the Church by… celebrat[ing] our faith… preach[ing] the Good News… serv[ing] people… [and] liv[ing] community”.

“For more than a hundred years we have shaped the community of the Church in parishes and congregations”, the women recalled.

“We want the different realities of life for women, men, young people and children to be reflected in a variety of worship services. For this we need a gender-sensitive language that is understandable to everyone”, the German-speaking Catholic women’s associations asserted.

They also called for “prophetic and liberating” courage “to be able to recognise, name and change unjust gender relationships” in the Church, and recalled that “the diversity of biblical images of God opens up new ways” of challenging and overturning gender imbalances.

“A serving Church alone is a credible Church”, the Catholic women continued, calling for all who find a home in the Church to be “accompanied, protected and supported” regardless of their situation and lifestyle.

Why it matters

“Our communities are places where the Church is realised. We women are able and willing to take full responsibility in all ministries and offices in the Church, depending on our calling” and including the ordained ministry, the German-speaking Catholic women’s associations affirmed.

That greater involvement of women in the Church is ever more urgent today, the women said, in the wake of “the massive loss of credibility due to the clerical abuse of power” which still “fills us with great concern”.

To overcome that lingering clericalism, “women and men who live a fraternal Church” are needed now more than ever, the women’s groups insisted.

“As Catholic women’s organisations, we know our strength. By consciously staying in our Church, we take responsibility for its renewal. We trust that God’s spirit will fill our community and accompany us on our way”, the German-speaking Catholic women’s associations concluded.

Next on Novena:

Women to take over pulpits for a Sunday in Germany in push for Church gender equality

‘No’ to clericalism, ‘yes’ to co-responsibility: the keys to the first assembly on the German synodal path

Catholic women plead for end to Church oppression: “Every woman wants to be respected in her dignity”

(Small) Win for women on German ‘synodal path’: assembly votes to make resolutions dependent on female majority

Catholic women launch global pilgrimage for equal rights, healing of “broken” Church

German Church women’s rights movement still striving for “equality and renewal”: member

German bishop recognises women’s exclusion from ordination “fundamentally unjust and inappropriate”

German Catholic women draw “red lines” for ‘synodal path’: full equality in Church leadership and call to Rome for ordination

German-speaking Catholic women band together for urgent reform of “violent” Church structures


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.