The Bishop of Mainz, Peter Kohlgraf, is “perplexed” in view of the controversy around the possible ordination of women. “The loud voices from both sides” are often injurious, said the prelate in a statement on Tuesday, and threaten the unity of the Church. Kohlgraf was responding to the calls for a greater role for women in Church launched by the protest movement “Maria 2.0”.

On the one hand, Kohlgraf demanded more than just “well-intentioned explanations” for the limiting of womens’ roles, especially after the announcement of the consultation or “synodal way” announced by the German bishops. Concrete changes have to be made.

Traditional arguments are “no longer understood by many people” and it wouldn’t be enough “just to explain them better,” said Kohlgraf.

On the other hand, the Bishop of Mainz warned that he sees “currently no realistic perspective of change” on the question, since Pope John Paul II excluded the admission of women to the priesthood in 1994 “with high magisterial authority,” which his successors have confirmed.

Therefore, “a Council of the universal Church is needed to approach this question”, said Kohlgraf. The issue of the ordination of women has “considerable potential for division”, which is why the statements of the Popes also reflect their “concern for the unity of the universal Church”. Kohlgraf spoke against making women’s ordination a criterion for judging other parts of the universal Church as “culturally and religiously underdeveloped”.

More women in leadership positions

Kohlgraf pointed out that the ordination of women endangers ecumenical relations with Orthodoxy. In addition, the “personal question of conscience” is a difficult one to answer, “whether the last 2,000 years of church history should have so misunderstood the will of Jesus”. He spoke against “putting the Pope under massive pressure on this issue”. Moreover, one should not overestimate the influence of the German Bishops’ Conference, which has no common opinion on the question.

However, the Bishop of Mainz demanded that women assume more leadership roles in the Church in the future. These roles have been historically too closely connected with ordination and there are “realistic possibilities” that they be opened to laypeople. In addition, new ministries and offices could develop.

The movement “Maria 2.0” from Münster last month called for a week-long church strike by women, involving several tens of thousands of Catholic women throughout Germany and around the world. Among other things, the protest advocates the equality of women in the Church.