Small initiative grows into nationwide wave of protest

Small initiative grows into nationwide wave of protest

They demand a reform of the church, want equality between men and women and denounce the abuse scandals – a small initiative finds fellow campaigners throughout Germany in the "church strike.

It started very small: Five women from Holy Cross in Munster are not satisfied with the fact that offices in the Catholic Church are reserved for men only – and have organized a campaign for the 11. to 18. May called for a "church strike. With her initiative "Maria 2.0" they are fighting for a renewal of the church and for different power structures in view of the abuse scandal.

In the meantime, this has developed into a nationwide wave of protest: The week of action against a male-dominated church has found imitators in numerous other places. Co-initiator Lisa Kotter cannot give an exact number, but estimates that several hundred initiatives are taking part in the "grassroots campaign". There is also international resonance.

Self-organized services in front of churches

From Saturday to Saturday, women are not to enter houses of worship or perform voluntary services. Instead, in many places there are self-organized services in front of the churches. With its concerns, "Maria 2.0" in the protests of the Catholic Women's Community of Germany (kfd).

In December, it had launched the action "#MachtLichtAn" to show solidarity with victims of abuse. Also at the spring meeting of the bishops in Lingen, about 300 women demonstrated in a media-effective way for a more decisive clarification and for reforms in the church.

The initiative "Maria 2.0", which is also supported by the Catholic German Women's Federation (KDFB), is additionally addressing Pope Francis directly in an open letter. In it, too, the women lament the abuse cases as well as their cover-up by public officials.

Their main concern, however, is that the structure of offices in the church should change. "Frauenlob is gladly sung by church men, who however alone determine, where women may bring in their talents in the church", it is said in the letter: "In their midst they tolerate only one woman: Maria. On its pedestal. There it stands. And may only be silent."Instead, Mary – representative of all women – should be moved to the center: "as a sister who looks in the same direction as we do.

Archbishop Burger shows understanding

On the homepage of "Maria 2.0" are numerous press reports about actions on the ground. In Freiburg, for example, a group of female Catholics is planning a demonstration for more equal rights on Sunday – parallel to the ordination of priests in the cathedral. When bishops and priests come out of church services, they are greeted by women in red T-shirts and carrying protest posters against a "male clerical church".

Freiburg Archbishop Stephan Burger expressed understanding that women were frustrated at being excluded from ordination as deacons or priests. But he currently sees no room to change the church's legal regulations.

In Munster there should also be a central vigil on Sunday on the cathedral square on topics such as abuse, celibacy, women's ordination and sexual morality. Munster's Bishop Felix Genn did not want to comment on the church strike, but pointed to the decision of the Bishops' Conference to take up the ies of power, sexual morality and priestly lifestyle in a Synodal Way.

Strike also meets with criticism

But the church strike also meets with criticism. Thus warned the archbishop of the Curia and private secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI., Georg Ganswein, wary of trying to invent a new church and tinkering with its DNA. The Forum of German Catholics called on the women to leave their association and to found "a new organization faithful to the faith".

Conservative Internet portals stressed that the demand of "Maria 2.0" the letter "Ordinatio sacerdotalis" of Pope John Paul II. contradict. There it had been finally determined that the church had no authority to ordain women as priests.

The initiative counters such objections on its Facebook page. In addition, it says there that it would be nice "if the old white men in Rome didn't always have to worry about their church". Then they "might get their hearts free to care about the faith and that it is lived and loved".

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Christina Cherry
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