German-speaking youth have urged their bishops to bring about gender justice in Catholicism, saying “only in this way can the Church be a strong voice for freedom”.
– A plea to pastors for a “new beginning for the Church”: “Who can change something if not you?”
“As representatives of child and youth ministries, we are committed to gender justice, equal rights, co-determination and equal opportunities in our societies and in the Church”, delegates from Catholic young people’s groups in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the South Tyrol region of northern Italy affirmed in a statement after the third networking meeting of German-speaking Catholic youth ministry organisations that was held in Lucerne, Switzerland, from August 28-30.
“As young Christians in a worldwide Church, we have the opportunity and the moral obligation to move forward here. Who should stand up for all those who are denied these rights if not us?”, the Catholic young people continued in their statement.
Reaffirming their commitment to “equal rights” in the Church for laypeople “of all genders” – and to a Church “that affirms diversity” – the German-speaking Catholic youth representatives recalled that women in the Church especially “take on leadership tasks, preach in Eucharistic celebrations and provide comprehensive pastoral care”.
The Catholic youth called on their priests and bishops “to publicly acknowledge this practice” and to encourage other clerics to do the same, “because isolation makes us vulnerable, but solidarity makes us strong”.
That appeal was followed by a specific petition to bishops “to examine the vocations of all people without distinction and to recognise vocations to the services and ministries of the Church without regard to gender”.
“We expect you to join us in courageously working for gender justice, equal rights, co-determination and equal opportunities in Church and society. Only in this way can the Church be a strong and credible voice for freedom and human rights worldwide”, the German-speaking Catholic youth continued in a heartfelt plea to their pastors.
“You as our bishops are in a ministry that demands listening to the signs of the times and can promote a new beginning for the Church. Who can change something if not you? We support every effort to implement these concerns with us and will not stop raising our voices for them”, the Catholic young people concluded their statement.
– Church structures foster sexualised violence
Explaining the young German, Austrian, Italian and Swiss Catholics call for “more outbursts of courage” on women’s rights issues in Catholicism, Association of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) Gregor Podschun denounced that “sexualised violence is fostered by the structure of the Catholic Church”.
“There is a need for worldwide changes in the Catholic Church to share power and authority, to abolish male clerical structures, to promote equal rights for women and to involve young people in decision-making processes”, Podschun implored.
“The universal Church can only fulfill its mission to proclaim the gospel authentically and credibly if it acts from structures that are people-focused and close to the world in which we live”, the BDKJ chairman insisted.
For her part, volunteer chairwoman of the Austrian Catholic Youth Association (KJÖ) Eva Wimmer said that “the question of the role of women in the Church is not only present in the German-speaking countries but also concerns Christians all over the world”.
“In many places, however, believers do not have the opportunity to openly address problems and the need for reform, as they must reckon with negative consequences”, Wimmer continued.
The KJÖ chairwoman added that the relative openness to reform in German-speaking Churches compared with the resistance in other places “gives us, as representatives of child and youth ministries in German-speaking countries, the responsibility to openly address grievances and to demand reforms, especially with regard to women in offices and ministries in the Church”.