“The opening of the sacramental diaconate to women is overdue”, German lay groups have cried.

– #Women’sDiaconateNow April 29

The German Catholic Women’s Association (KDFB), the Catholic Women’s Association of Germany (kfd), the Network of the Women’s Diaconate and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) presented Monday a protest for April 29, the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena and since 1998 the Day of the Female Deacon in Germany.

Convinced that as the Church’s foremost ministry of service the diaconate should not be tied to one gender – but rather that women and men, both baptised and confirmed, are called equally to ministry – the KDFB, kfd, Women’s Diaconate Network and ZdK called for action on social media Wednesday under the hashtag #frauendiakonatjetzt (“Women’s diaconate now”).

– “Women give face, hand and foot to the message of Jesus Christ”

Though the central event for this year’s Day of the Female Deacon in Munich had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the KDFB, kfd, Network of the Women’s Diaconate and ZdK still encouraged Catholics to take to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram April 29 with their messages of support for the diaconate of women.

Group chairs Maria Flachsbarth (KDFB), Mechthild Heil (kfd), Irmentraud Kobusch (Network of the Women’s Diaconate) and Thomas Sternberg (ZdK) celebrated in a joint statement that “women maintain social and human life”, and added that this fact “is particularly evident in the coronavirus crisis”.

“[Women’s] diaconal service to her neighbors in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices or homeless facilities testifies to enthusiasm, great strength and love for people – not only now, but over many decades”, the organisers of the Day of the Female Deacon affirmed.

They insisted that “the fact is that women give face, hand and foot to the message of Jesus Christ in a variety of ways.

“Therefore, they should be ordained deacons, because they act as authentic witnesses of faith in a living Church”.

– Changes necessary “so that the Church may be with people today and equality can develop”

In their statement today presenting the #frauendiakonatjetzt campaign, the KDFB, kfd, Network of the Women’s Diaconate and ZdK chairs insisted that Church leaders must recognise the signs of the times and move immediately to enable the women’s diaconate where it is necessary and wanted.

That enabling of the ordained ministry of women need not wait for the full agreement of the worldwide Church, the German Church leaders said, but instead could forward now on the desires for reform of national Churches.

In Germany, for instance, “we are on a synodal path towards a sustainable and credible Church”, the lay group chairs recalled.

“This requires changes so that the Church may be with people today and equality can develop. The opening of the sacramental diaconate to women is overdue”, they affirmed.

Responding to the Vatican announcement April 8 that Pope had set up a new commission to study the women’s diaconate, the KDFB, kfd, Network of the Women’s Diaconate and ZdK chairs recalled that “there is a lot of well-founded information about women deacons and their work in the early Church”.

“The Church could build on this today and provide a credible answer to the signs of the times”, the organisers of Wednesday’s action for women deacons maintained.

– “It will strengthen the Church when ordination is open to both genders”

A sample of the KDFB, kfd, Network of the Women’s Diaconate and ZdK’s unwavering support for the diaconate of women came in 2017, on the twentieth anniversary of the Day of the Female Deacon, when they said that “if the Catholic Church in Germany wants to be credible and future-proof, then it is urgently necessary to involve women in ecclesiastical office and to introduce the diaconal ordination for women”.

“It will strengthen the Church when the sacramental diaconate is open to both genders”, the KDFB, kfd, Network of the Women’s Diaconate and ZdK said at the time.

Last week, too, the vice-president of the German Bishops – Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of the Osnabrück diocese – said that if he were Pope the first thing he would do would be revise the ordination of women.

The German Bishops’ president, Bishop Georg Bätzing of the Limburg diocese, also said upon his election in March that the place of women is the “most urgent question” for the Church, and that as Catholics “we can’t wait any longer for women to have equal rights” in the ecclesiastical institution.

More on Novena on the fight for women’s equality in the Church:

Vatican cardinal: “We must radically change” how priests interact with women

German Bishops’ vice president: “If I were Pope, the first thing I’d do would be revise the ordination of women”

Coronavirus won’t stop German ‘synodal path’ reform process: organisers

On new deacons commission, Catholic women warn Pope against cementing their “second-class status” in Church

Cardinal Hollerich: “Women have to share power in the Church”

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