Women are shattering the stained glass ceiling in Germany, rising to management positions in three Catholic dioceses.
– Bishop of Augsburg: “A sign of a fraternal Church”
Cologne archdiocesan website domradio.de reported April 7 on new appointments for women in dioceses in the southern German state of Bavaria.
In Augsburg, new bishop-designate Bertram Meier has named laywoman Angelika Maucher as the new director of the diocesan pastoral care office – which Meier himself previously led – from May 1 this year.
Commenting on his decision to appoint Maucher and her new deputy, Christian Öxler (45), Bishop-designate Maier said that “for me, the fact that a woman and a man act in tandem is a sign of a fraternal Church in which we serve Jesus, the good shepherd, together”.
Maucher, from the town of Kempten, has studied theology, social pedagogy and pastoral psychology, according to the Domradio report.
The new Augsburg pastoral care director, moreover, has great experience in both parish and hospital ministry, and has also worked in Catholic training, recruitment and counselling.
More recently, Maucher has been director of religious education and support at the Augsburg diocesan Caritas.
– A first in the diocese of Würzburg
In Würzburg, meanwhile, Bishop Franz Jung has appointed pastoral theologian Christine Schrappe as the new director of the diocesan education and culture department.
According to the diocese, the appointmMent of Schrappe – who will manage the merger of the diocesan agencies for universities, schools and art – represents the first time that a woman has risen to such a high rank in the administration of the local Church.
Schrappe has been working in the diocese of Würzburg since 1986, Domradio reported.
After studying theology and education, Schrappe worked as a pastoral consultant before completing further studies and being named in 2014 as the deputy head of the diocesan section for non-formal education.
– Power to women also in Munich and Freising
For its part, the archdiocese of Munich and Freising has had doctor of laws Stephanie Herrmann working in its ranks as an official in the diocesan administration since January 1.
Born in Munich, Herrmann studied law at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (LMU).
Before coming to the archdiocese headed by former German Bishops’ President Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Herrmann worked in the Bavarian public service, in higher education and in the office of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) parliamentary group.
The appointments of Maucher, Schrappe and Herrmann are proof that the Catholic women’s rights movement in Germany continues apace, as is evidenced too by the fact that the Catholic Women’s Council – originally formed by German-speaking women last year, but since gone global – is organising a special online liturgy and protest for Easter.
Earlier last month, before the coronavirus outbreak monopolised the conversation in the Church and the world, Catholic voices in Germany were crying out for more power for women in Church.
Those protests built on demonstrations for International Women’s Day last March, where thousands of women in Germany and around the world protested for gender justice in the Church, and German Bishops’ President Georg Bätzing of Limburg doubled-down on his promise to seek permission from Rome to ordain female deacons.
The naming of Maucher, Schrappe and Herrmann to key management positions in their respective dioceses also comes after Maria Hölscheidt was named as a new ‘dean’ of the Münster diocese by Bishop Felix Genn, in what was another groundbreaking appointment.