Deacons' dalmatics

German Church reform movement: no need to wait for “synodal path” for women deacons

The grassroots Church reform movement ‘We are Church’ Germany is calling on the German bishops to ask Pope Francis for a diaconate for women, independent of the results either of the Amazon Synod or of the German Church’s “binding synodal path”.

Driving the news

‘We are Church’ Germany met this last weekend in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse for its 44th Assembly.

At the conclusion of the meet, which brought together more than sixty delegates from all over the country, the association issued a statement asking their bishops “to obtain a special permit from the Pope for the introduction of the women’s diaconate in Germany”.

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Go deeper

‘We are Church’ Germany said the reintroduction of the female diaconate does not hinge on its approval either at the Amazon Synod or in the context of the “synodal path”.

The association said such a ministry is already provided for in the resolutions of the so-called Würzburg Synod in the former West Germany (1971-75), which urged both equal rights between the bishops and laity as well as women deacons.

But ‘We are Church’ warned that “the opposition to fundamental reforms in the Church’s power structure that still exists in the German Bishops’ Conference and in the Vatican endangers the much-needed process of renewal in the worldwide Church crisis”, on both the women deacons and other issues.

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Why it matters

Other resolutions adopted by ‘We are Church’ in its assembly in Neustadt included empowering the self-initiative of base Christians and churches and encouraging them “to take responsibility and be the ‘local Church'” in the face of widespread parish closures and mergers.

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‘We are Church’ also pledged to continue to accompany bishops and other Catholics leaders in the Church’s “urgently-needed reform process”, and to step up cooperation with other Church and secular organisations “in the commitment to justice, peace and the integrity of Creation”.

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For the record

The German Bishops approved in late September statutes for a “binding synodal path” to reform aspects of Church life brought into focus by the clergy sex abuse crisis: the exercise of power in the Church, the priestly way of life and priestly celibacy, sexual morality and the role of women in the Church.

‘We are Church’ spokesman Christian Weisner welcomed those statutes and the synodal path in general as a “first step” out of the Church’s “self-inflicted… existential crisis”.

Weisner also said if the process succeeds in “breaking the theologically-exaggerated power structures” in Catholicism today, it could be a model for the Church worldwide.

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Vatican and German Church leaders “who refuse any further development of Church doctrine must be asked how they can justify this in view of the worldwide devastating loss of credibility of Church leadership” due to the abuse crisis, Weisner warned.

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