• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'Women give the Catholic church a future'

The Local · 30 Apr 2013, 16:00

Published: 30 Apr 2013 16:00 GMT+02:00

Ute Hücker, spokeswoman for the German Catholic Women's Association (KDFB) told The Local it was important that the church reflected modern life in the rest of the world - and recognized the work conducted by women for the church and their wider communities.

Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch, who chairs the German Bishops' Conference, said at the weekend the idea of women deacons was no longer out of the question, but added that they would not be full deacons as men can be. What is now being considered is a compromise - a special new kind of semi-pro deacon position created specifically for women.

This is not enough, the women say. "We say the time is right for a votive office for women as deacons. The deacon work is pastoral, visiting the sick and the poor for example; it is the basic work of the church and is crucial. All these things are being done by women in any case.

"We say the leadership jobs in the church must be made available to women and men equally. In Germany men can become full-time or half-time professional deacons. They are inducted by a bishop and it is this that women are barred from. Yet women are doing this work voluntarily already. The jobs should be available to women as well as men."

Women give the church a future

Deacons can lead Liturgy of the Word services, but not conduct Mass, they can prepare children for their first communion and conduct burials. And although they cannot conduct marriages, they can assist at wedding ceremonies.

"Eighty percent of the active members of the German church are women. Women are the ones who can give the church a future - quite literally. It is necessary in today's world where women are dealt with equally in an increasing number of areas - this must be possible in the church too."

She said the fight to promote women to leadership positions in business and academia should be matched by a move to open the way to women within the non-priest areas of the Catholic Church.

The Bishops' Conference this spring produced an assurance that the church leadership wanted to see more women in responsible roles, something which Hücker said was welcomed by Catholic women's associations.

"The bishops have realized it is good for the church. It was a real change of heart. Many women in Germany are turning their back on the church because they are not being taken seriously," she said.

Not gunning for priesthood

Although the push from Catholic women for equality in the lay sectors of the church might seem surprisingly strong from an outside perspective, they are not intent on getting into the priesthood.

"That is not possible from a theological point of view. There are women who do not accept this, but that is not what we are calling for. More Catholic women in Germany want to see deacons who are women. We have been working for this for many years. We know that we are not alone in this. There are many people who say this is necessary, it is a sign of the times, and crucial if the church wants to build a future.

"We were initially pleased with what Archbishop Zollitsch said but he also said what he was proposing was not a votive position, it was a special new job, a second-rung position. We want the full office of deacon, and the training that goes with it to be made available for men and for women.

Story continues below…

"We will be watching what happens next. Women will need patience in this, but we have that patience and we are also very determined."

Hannah Cleaver

hannah.cleaver@thelocal.com

twitter.com/hannahcleaver2

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Trump protesters rebuild and tear down 'Berlin Wall'
The 'Stop Trump' protest at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA.

US expats gathered at the Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Friday "rebuild" the Berlin Wall and protest US presidential candidate Donald Trump's own proposed wall-building.

Accusation of sexism within Merkel's party creates uproar
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel, two leading women in the CDU party. Photo: DPA.

A young politician from the ranks of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has caused a storm by suggesting that the party is institutionally sexist.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

Symbols of migrant plight to go on show in Bonn museum
Photo: DPA

A people smugglers' car, a dinghy and a life jacket are among items related to Europe's migration crisis due to go on display at a German museum.

Brexit
Green party demand 'quick and easy' citizenship for Brits
Photo: DPA

The Green party has called for Brits living in Germany to be offered a painless path to obtaining dual citizenship as to "reassure them over the future".

Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month
Photo: Immonet.de.

This shoebox apartment in the gentrified Bergmann-Kiez neighbourhood may be a sign that the tides are turning for Berlin’s comparatively cheap housing market.

Far-right AfD reach record high in national poll
AfD leader Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) was backed by 16 percent of respondents in a new poll, which was a new high for the upstart populist party.

Bautzen youth beat up pensioner in racist attack
Photo: DPA

In the Saxon town of Bautzen, which has become a byword for racism and anti-migrant sentiment, two youths have attacked a 72-year-old man, shouting 'foreigners out'.

German lawmakers ratify landmark Paris climate accord
The German parliament (Bundestag). Photo: DPA.

Germany's lower of house of parliament on Thursday ratified the Paris agreement on climate change, following in the footsteps of 60 other countries that have committed to the landmark agreement designed to stem the planet's rising temperatures.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
5,682
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd