“The vocation of women to the priesthood must be recognised”, a German theologian has urged.
– “An enrichment for the whole community of faith”
Agnes Wuckelt, the vice-president of the German Association of Catholic Women (kfd), told katholisch.de May 29 that women’s inclusion in the Church and in Holy Orders particularly “must be sincerely desired, as an enrichment for the whole community of faith”.
Wuckelt, a renowned theologian in Germany and beyond, was responding to German Bishops’ president Georg Bätzing, who acknowledged in an interview Friday that demand for women priests “is there, in the middle of the Church”, and because of that demand, papal ‘noes’ to women’s ordination can’t be the end to discussion on the matter.
The traditional arguments of the magisterium for keeping women out of ordained office are “in many cases no longer accepted”, Bätzing further admitted.
Though she broadly welcomed Bätzing’s words, Wuckelt called on the head of the German episcopate and on his brother bishops to do more to promote women’s equality.
Greater inclusion for women in the Church should be pursued as a good in itself, and not merely proclaimed as part of a feel-good “Sunday sermon” or implemented as a “stop-gap” solution to the lack of male priests, the theologian warned.
– Criticisms of the new women deacons commission and of Querida Amazonia
With regard to the group looking into the female diaconate after being called to that task by the pontiff in April, Wuckelt was clear: “We don’t need another commission”.
She was also critical of the two German-speaking members of the new commission, theologian Barbara Hallensleben and priest Manfred Hauke: Hallensleben for “never having researched the issue” and Hauke for teaching over decades “that feminine nature impedes ordination”.
“At this point, it is clear that there is no clear historical evidence to support a female sacramental diaconate”, the theologian acknowledged, alluding to the work of the first Vatican commission which wrapped in January without any clear answers.
“But neither is there any strong evidence about the male priesthood”, Wuckelt added, asking: “Why should we now strive to support everything historically? What should this commission really investigate?”
On Querida Amazonia, Wuckelt blasted the “absolutely obsolete image of women” present in that document.
“Men have Christ as their model and women have Mary. In this way, women can only follow Jesus by imitating Mary’s ministry. Men, on the other hand, benefit from the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was also a man – an untenable theological teaching!”, she denounced.
– ‘Synodal path’ orgainsers double-down on need for reforms of women’s place in Church
Wuckelt is a member of the “Women in Ministries and Offices in the Church” forum in the German Church’s ‘synodal path’ reform process, which is also examining possible changes to Catholic sexual morality, the exercise of power and authority in the Church and priestly celibacy.
The synodal path suffered a minor setback this week when conveners Bätzing and president of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) Thomas Sternberg announced that due to the coronavirus crisis, the next synodal path assembly will be pushed back from September 2020 to February 2021, with the conclusion to the process now expected in February 2022 instead of October 2021.
Bätzing and Sternberg are holding fast, however, to the synodal path’s push for reform, telling the Süddeutsche Zeitung in a joint interview May 29 that the pandemic has intensified the need for changes in Catholicism, particularly with respect to the place of women, since “if women are the losers in the crisis because they shoulder the main burden in the family and suffer professionally, then the question about the role of women in the Church arises even more clearly”.
“We need a dialogue between the culture of society and the message of the Gospel”, Bätzing and Sternberg explained, adding “there is a gap. Our goal is to bridge the gap”.
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