The Bishop of Mainz (Germany), Peter Kohlgraf

Mainz bishop says arguments against women’s ordination “fail to convince”

“The objections of Rome to the ordination of women often fail to convince”, the Bishop of Mainz in Germany, Peter Kohlgraf, has lamented.

Driving the news

“Nowadays it is simply not enough to say, ‘Rome has decided, and therefore we won’t talk about it anymore'”, Kohlgraf said Saturday in an interview with the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

On the country, the bishop said he considers it “crucial that we get involved in the experiences and thinking of those who call for movement and change” on this issue of women’s ordination.

Such is the discontent in Germany over the exclusion of women from ordained offices that is has become a “paralysis for evangelisation”, Kohlgraf admitted.

He said the pain over women’s continuing invisibility in the Church has become “so prevalent that it is almost impossible” to talk about other aspects of Catholic life.

Related:

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The big picture

In this sense, Kohlgraf praised the activists of the ‘Maria 2.0’ movement for gender equality in the Church.

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He said he promised them he would pass along to Rome their failure to understand the Vatican’s inaction on women believers’ rights.

“We’re looking in the same direction”, Kohlgraf said of his sympathies with the movement.

“These are highly-committed women – and also men – from the centre of our communities”, the bishop explained.

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Go deeper

Kohlgraf also responded to the growing movement in the Church to revise the practice of mandatory celibacy for priests.

Both the German Church’s own “binding synodal path” reform consultation and the Amazon Synod in the Vatican are considering this question.

“I don’t consider married priests in certain regions to be either an attack on the universal Church or on the priesthood in general”, the bishop said.

“After all, in the Roman Catholic Church we already have husbands in active service as priests – for example, those who have converted as former Protestant pastors and who, of course, were then allowed to keep their families”, he recalled.

“I know of no country on earth where Church power, the priesthood, sexual morality, or the role of women are not an issue”, Kohlgraf explained.

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For the record

Kohlgraf also referred to possible reforms to sexual morality in the Church.

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Along with women’s rights and mandatory priestly celibacy, that’s also another key topic of the German Church’s reform process.

The bishop said change on this front is inevitable.

“A look into Church history shows that, apart from the essentials in the Creed, there is nothing that would not have been subject to the passage of time in the Church”, Kohlgraf explained.

“This also applies to sexual ethics. Certainly Jesus’ words about marital fidelity were upheld at all times. But otherwise the Church’s positions on sexual morality have changed a great deal, and always… culture and the reality of life have played a role in it”, he continued.

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The bishop called his fellow pastors to “greater serenity and less rigidity” when judging the private lives of Catholics.

“One way to progress is to break away from fixation on the sexual act and instead see the whole of a relationship”, Kohlgraf said.

Next on Novena:

Pope blasts priests’ obsession with sex as “perversion”, “hypocrisy”

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.