True to their vow to “take responsibility for our Church into our hands”, Catholic women are raising the stakes after the denial of their ordination in the Pope’s post-Amazon Synod apostolic exhortation, and are calling for the abolition of all Church hierarchies.
“Jesus didn’t even want a priesthood”
Or at least that’s what Lisa Kötter, co-founder of the German Catholic women’s rights group ‘Maria 2.0’ is doing.
From the pages of the magazine Publik-Forum, Kötter said February 14 that women’s ordination – had it been allowed by the Pope – would only have been an “interim solution” and a “mitigation of [the] injustice” suffered by women in the Church.
“I don’t see that Jesus even wanted to build a priesthood. No bishop has ever been able to prove that to me”, said Kötter, recalling that the founder of Christianity, in actual fact, broke down rather than built up hierarchies.
It was only when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire after the fourth century that the Church came to a “pact with power”, Kötter added.
“The Church is always a hundred years behind, lukewarm, limp and cold”
The artist co-founder of Maria 2.0 – who designed the group’s now world-famous logo of a Virgin Mary with her mouth taped shut when she and five other Catholic women from Münster organised the first gender equality campaign in January 2019 – lamented that, even before the new papal document, the Church has always been looking backwards.
The Church, Kötter said, is “always a hundred years behind, is lukewarm and limp and cold”.
Instead, the Maria 2.0 co-founder said the Church should be rushing to the forefront of social struggles, out “on the streets with the Fridays for Future” movement, for example.
In the model of the very Virgin Mary 2.0 that her namesake group holds up as their heroine, who “was a strong, brave woman”, according to Kötter.
“She certainly did not sing the Magnificat with her mouth closed”, the Maria 2.0 co-founder recalled.
“The centre is not in Rome”
Perhaps it’s her upbringing in a self-described “super-conservative” Catholic family, but Kötter said that despite her disagreements with the hierarchy, she’s not at all tempted to give up the fight for her faith.
“I just have Catholicism in my bones”, she exaplained.
“For me, the centre is not in Rome. For me, Jesus is the centre”.
The Pope’s new exhortation, “tremendously disappointing”
The reactions of Catholic lay and women’s groups to the Pope’s new exhortation have been largely negative, in the main because Francis shut down, at least in the short term, the opening to married priests and women deacons that the Amazon Synod had voted for and that consequently, many were expecting.
Church reform group We Are Church International, for example, called the papal document “tremendously disappointing” for its failure to open ministry up to married men and to women.
Women’s ordination advocates blasted the Amazon exhortation as “outdated”, and another show of the “institutional sexism”, “degradation” and “discrimination” Catholic women suffer.