A German archbishop has demanded that the Church in the country increase its quota of women in leadership positions.

– “There is still room for improvement” even despite Bishops’ commitment to 30% ratio of positions for females

Archbishop of Paderborn Hans-Josef Becker made the appeal June 9 in an online ceremony to mark the end of this year’s edition of the mentoring program to women, ‘Women Rise’, that the German Bishops have been running for the past five years in a bid to help more females into management and administrative roles in the Church.

Though the German Bishops have already committed to increasing the proportion of women leaders in their dioceses to 30% of positions by 2023, voices such as those of the German Association of Catholic Women (KFD) have been pushing for that ratio to be lifted at least to 50%.

Archbishop Becker also agrees that the 30% figure is not high enough.

“We want to do everything we can to further increase the proportion of women in management positions, because there is still room for improvement”, the Paderborn archbishop affirmed.

– “Everyone in the Catholic Church must move” on the issue of equality

Though they are important, Becker said the question of a greater role for women in the Church isn’t just a matter of statistics, but requires a change in attitude as well.

“Everyone in the Catholic Church must move” on the issue of gender justice, the archbishop explained, so as to bring about a shift in the current ecclesiastical culture of inequality.

And indeed, Becker is making moves in the right direction on the question of women’s equality by providing more and more opportunities for female employees to work part-time, work from home and work in leadership teams and in that way achieve greater a better work-life balance.

– German Church’s female leadership mentoring program going from strength to strength

In its five years of operations to date, the German Church’s female leaders mentoring program has produced 96 women graduates from 19 different archdioceses and dioceses around the country as well as from Caritas and other Church aid organisations.

In a sign that the two-year program is exciting interest and meeting a need, 64 women have already signed up for next year’s edition.

The program is run jointly by the German Bishops, the individual dioceses and the Hildegardis Association, an institution that has been supporting the education and advancement of young Catholic women for over a century.

Hildegardis Association chair Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof celebrated the end of another successful round of women’s formation for Church leadership – as well as the promising amount of students for the next course – and said the ongoing strength of the mentoring program is a sign that the Church is slowly becoming more gender-just.

“With our mentoring program, we make the voice of women in our Church clearly heard”, Kreuter-Kirchhof affirmed, adding that through the course “women who want and are able to take on leadership tasks in the Church become visible”.

Through the ‘Women Rise’ program “our Church becomes more diverse and more feminine”, the Hildegardis Association chair highlighted.

– New bishop appoints young nun as head of household

In the meantime, and in further news regarding the advancement of women in the German Church, new Bishop of Augsburg Bertram Meier – who was installed this past weekend – has appointed a 43-year-old female religious, Sr. Anna Schenck, as the head of his household.

“I am convinced that Sr. Anna will bring to this demanding position not only her professional qualifications but also her Ignatian spirituality as a member of the Congregation of Jesus, which lives according to the same rules as the Jesuits”, Meier affirmed as he announced Schenck’s appointment June 8.

In her new role, Schenck – who is currently completing a year of preparation to take her perpetual vows as a nun – will be responsible for coordination between the bishop and his office and other diocesan structures including vicariates and the cathedral chapter.

Accepting the appointment, the religious – who has spent time volunteering in Lebanon with the Jesuit Refugee Service – said that she was grateful to Meier for his trust and looked forward to “breaking new ground” together with the bishop, trusting “in the guidance of the Holy Spirit”.

More stories on Novena on women in the Church:

Church leaders from Vatican, world to offer online course on feminism and Catholic identity

Female deacons commission member warns of danger of Church “where women exist only in the imagination of men”

Belgian Jesuit calls for women cardinals: “It is vital that the world not always be seen through male eyes”

German Bishops’ chair warns without more women’s leadership “the Church will soon be finished”

German theologian urges: “The vocation of women to the priesthood must be recognised”


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