Catholics in Germany have held a worship service outside of a church to denounce the exclusion of women in the institution, insisting as they did so on the principles of “equal dignity” and “equal rights” for all believers.

– For the “fundamental renewal of our Church”

The celebration took place Sunday October 11 in the front of the parish centre of the Church of St. Joseph in the town of Marl, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

There some thirty women and ten men braved the wind and rain to respond to the invitation of the ‘Maria 2.0’ Catholic women’s rights group and of the Münster diocesan local branch of the Catholic Women’s Association of Germany (kfd) to pray and sing together with the cry “Come to the table! We share like brothers and sisters. Equal dignity – equal rights”.

Though the celebration was not a Eucharist but instead a Service of the Word, participants nonetheless still gathered around a table set up under the portico of the parish centre and set with symbolic bread and wine, all the while observing the coronavirus health regulations.

“We stand up together… for a fundamental renewal of our Church” so that “women are taken seriously with their vocations and take on leadership responsibility”, Maria 2.0 and kfd member Elisabeth Jansen told Münster diocesan website Kirche+Leben, calling for a truly fraternal and sororal Church “in which women have the same rights and dignity”.

Co-organiser of Sunday’s ‘Eucharist Silvia Thomas added: “We celebrate together with women and men in front of the church because we are still excluded from the susbtantial decisions of the Catholic Church”.

– Bishops’ mentoring program for women seeking Church leadership roles going from strength to strength

Pope Francis prayed twice last week – at the Angelus and in his October prayer intention – that “by the virtue of baptism”, laypeople, and “especially women… may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church”.

Without waiting for the hierarchy to move on the question of their ordination, German women are responding to the call by getting more and more involved in a program the German Bishops set up five years ago to increase the number of women in Church leadership positions to a third of all positions.

The program, “The Church as mentor – Women on the career ladder” – organised by the Hildegardis Association in tandem with the German Bishops’ Conference and Church charity Bonifatiuswerk – itself received a new leader last week in the person of 40-year-old Alexandra Feder, a theology graduate and former personnel manager in the archdiocese of Cologne.

The renewal at the helm of the program came ahead of the start of a new course with a record high number of enrolments. 64 women will be training to take their places in the Catholic leadership positions available to them, in a program that was originally slated to take only 40.

– Greens politician and committed Catholic denounces Church sustained by women but run by men: “That must change urgently”

Also on the Catholic women’s rights front in Germany, the new Greens candidate for the Governing Mayor of Berlin, committed Catholic Bettina Jarasch, denounced to the Tagesspiegel newspaper Sunday that while the Church is sustained by women, it is governed by men. “That must change urgently”, she insisted.

Jarasch – who is chair of the council of her Berlin parish of St. Marien Liebfrauen and a member of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) – pointed out that if female volunteers in the Church were to stop offering their time and efforts, “everything would collapse”.

For that reason, the politician – a long-time critic of the excesses of male clerical power – refused to rule out backing a strike on the part of Catholic women to help push through much-needed reforms.

More news on Novena on pushes for gender justice in the Church:

Special: Novena book review: The Church managed to backflip on its historical support for slavery. So why does it continue to fetter women by barring them from ordination?

11/10: Angelus: Pope repeats call for “more vivid feminine presence” in “institutions of responsibility” in the Church… “without falling into clericalisms”

Spanish bishop says women priests “could be” solution to vocations crisis

In Pope video for October, Francis laments “women tend to be left aside” in Church, asks for “more incisive female presence” in institution

Avatar
Author

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