Young theologians are denouncing discrimination in the Church, asking “how could a loving God want that?”.
– A “great discrepancy” between the Church’s image of God and Catholic structures
“We don’t believe that the Church follows a false image of God. The Church itself preaches a loving and just God. But we see a great discrepancy between this image of God and the structures of the Church”, Lisa Baumeister, co-founder of a new online protest against Catholic intolerance – Mein Gott diskriminiert nicht (“My God does not discriminate”) – denounced in an interview with katholisch.de September 29.
Along with fellow Freiburg doctoral candidates in theology Luisa Bauer and Claudia Danzer, Baumeister founded the new website to push back against those Church structures she said “discriminate against certain people and exclude them” – something at odds with the Christian vision of a loving and just God.
– “Only if the Church abolishes its discriminatory structures can it speak credibly again”
“Only if the Church abolishes its discriminatory structures can it again speak credibly of a loving and just God”, explained Danzer, who pointed to the “standstill of the reforms” promised by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s as the culprit of the Church’s continuing marginalisation of certain groups, including women and LGBTIQ+ people.
“In the Church, people have daily hurtful experiences of discrimination, which affect them at the deepest core of their identity”, denounced Bauer, adding that the founders of the ‘My God does not discriminate’ initiative feel that that discrimination “does not fit in with Jesus’ advocacy for the disadvantaged and marginalised”.
“We cannot and do not want to believe in a God who excludes women and queer people from the priesthood”, insisted Danzer.
She also pointed out that a 2018 report by researchers from the universities of Mannheim, Heidelberg, and Gießen (the so-called MHG study) concluded “that the Roman Catholic Church in its current shape demonstrably favours sexual abuse”.
“We can no longer be such a Church”, Danzer warned.
– Discrimination in Church “makes its story of a God who fights against marginalisation implausible”
On specific instances of discrimination in the Catholic Church, the young theologians were clear. As Bauer explained, “the way the Church is currently structured makes its story of a God who fights against discrimination and marginalisation implausible”.
“In order for it to be able to proclaim its message credibly again”, the Church “has to change its structures”, Bauer insisted.
On the commplace excuse used to shut down women’s ordination – that the ordained ministry is about modelling humility, not power – Bauer deplored that “it is a cover-up tactic to talk about the fact that the Roman Catholic Church is all about selfless service”.
“Women, too, want to help shape the Church at eye level”, she recalled, adding that “for this they need equal influence. After all, they are – just like men – created in the image of God”.
The organisers of ‘My God does not discriminate’ are pushing for reforms to the Church’s understanding of ordained ministry and sexual morality and for the democratisation of all Church structures.
Bauer said that contrary to the stereotypes, Church reform is not just a concern of Catholics of a certain generation but a desire of younger believers as well – hence the campaign on social networks, where Baumeister said on Instagram, for example, the new platform has gained over 500 followers in the space of just a week.
– Catholicism is not the plaything of priests and bishops: “All believers” have the right of co-determination of their Church
Supporting ‘My God does not discriminate’ are the Catholic women’s rights movement Maria 2.0, the German Catholic Youth Federation (BDKJ) and the Freiburg diocesan branch of the German Catholic Youth Community (KjG), Baumeister added.
But Danzer explained that the new website also aims to dovetail with the concerns of the ‘synodal path’, the German Church’s grassroots reform and renewal process being carried out jointly by bishops, priests, laypeople and outside experts.
There in the “democratic process” of the synodal path “the question of what will happen next with Catholicism and who has the authority to define what is Catholic” is being fought out, Danzer recalled. She said she and her colleagues hold that “all believers” have the right of co-determination of their Church, and not just Vatican officials and bishops alone.
“For this very reason it is important that young people are heard in their demand for a non-discriminatory Church”, Danzer stressed.