German Catholic Church appoints first female secretary

German Catholic Church appoints first female secretary
Beate Gilles in Bonn on Tuesday. Photo: DPA
Germany's Catholic bishops elected a woman as their general secretary for the first time on Tuesday, in a decision hailed as a "strong sign" of modernisation in the crisis-hit Church.

Theologian Beate Gilles, 50, will succeed Hans Langendörfer on July 1st as a high-ranking official charged with implementing decisions taken by the

“This is a strong sign that the bishops are acting on their agreement to promote women into leadership positions,” said Georg Bätzing, president of the bishops' conference.

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Langendörfer is retiring after 24 years in the role.

The council of 68 bishops are meeting via video conference this week in a virtual spring council overshadowed by a scandal over the controversial cardinal of Cologne Rainer Maria Woelki.

READ ALSO: Tensions mount in German Catholic Church over abuse report

Woelki, a powerful archbishop, has blocked the publication of a report about alleged sexual abuse of minors by members of his diocese, the largest in Germany.

His decision has prompted a furious reaction from victims and growing criticism from outside and inside the church.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about Catholicism in Germany


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