“Stand up, don't be silent”

The protest movement Maria 2.0 plans a human chain around Cologne Cathedral on Sunday under the slogan "Stand up, don't be silent". Organizer Ute Hucker explains the background and the demands of the movement.

Interviewer: Should only women join the ranks on Sunday?

Ute Hucker (spokeswoman for the Catholic German Women's Federation (KDFB)): No, it is not only women who should join in. It would be nice if women of all generations were there. But of course we are also happy about men. Our goal is to work for a church based on partnership that will endure in the future. And a church based on partnership includes men and women.

Interviewer: How many people are needed to surround the Cologne Cathedral?

Hucker: We need 460 people, but we would like more.

Interviewer: Is the whole thing actually a sub-action under Maria 2.0? Or something of your own?

Hucker: The Maria 2 initiative.0 that the women of Munster have started, we think is good. We think it is good when women voice their demands in this way. What has happened since then in many parishes and associations is good and right. The KDFB supports this in exactly the same way. But we go one step further and say: "Mary, do not be silent!" We do not want to be silent. Maria should say what she thinks and inspire us to what we demand publicly.

Interviewer: It can't be in the interest of women that they have less rights in the church. But everyone sees it that way?

Hucker: There are women who can cooperate well with each other. And there are women who are also opposed to each other, where one does not see any common points of contact at first. There is also a mutual critical eyeing, without perhaps knowing exactly where the differences and the common ground lie. The original cause of Maria 2.0 was the abuse scandal, the abuse of children, young people and women religious. There is a demand for enlightenment. But we also demand that church structures be reconsidered and changed. That reforms are necessary to make our church credible and fit for the future. We don't have the impression that this can work if nothing changes.

Therefore: Women open their mouths. Say what hurts you. Say, where you wish the reforms. Tell us where you would like to participate. Mary 2.0 and "Mary do not be silent" are not protest movements in the sense that the groups want radical cuts. Women are church. Women are a very lively part of this church. And women would like to bring about changes with men as well. This is not a women's problem, it is a church problem.

Interviewer: There was a prayer action around Cologne Cathedral last Sunday under the heading "Pontifex" by about 400 people. They wanted to make it clear that it was not a consensus to call for ordination for women. Are these your opponents?

Hucker: Pontifex is a group that also includes young men. It's about younger people overall. At Maria 2.0 and also "Maria schweige nicht" (Mary do not be silent), women who are already older come together. These are women from the generation of the "Second Vatican Council" and their daughters. This is what differentiates us in terms of age. But it's also the case that the demand for access to ministry is not the only demand.

It's about reforms as a whole. We also call for a change in sexual morality, for a new look at the realities of life. In the same way we ask to talk about priestly ways of life. It is not the case that all women want to become priests. But feeling called, that happens with women and with men. And both would have to have the possibility to follow this calling. Whether they do it is another chapter.

Interviewer: Are there also sometimes arguments among the groups?

Hucker: We didn't know Pontifex existed until recently. And we have therefore not made contact so far. But not the other way round either. I believe that at the moment it is like this, that the groups first find themselves with their positions and also present themselves in public, in order to simply also make clear: God's green meadow is large and there is room for many. And it is allowed to think in one direction and in another. Just as in a large meadow there are also small sheep and large sheep. And in between there are a few bees buzzing around.

Interviewer: One day after your human chain, the bishops will meet in Fulda for the plenary assembly. Do you want to give them something to take away with them??

Hucker: I would like to encourage the bishops to take courageous steps for change. I would like to encourage you to do this in dialogue with women. No one expects to go it alone now. This also contradicts the comprehensive idea of "being Catholic". I would like to see that what is happening at the grassroots level, in whatever direction, is taken seriously. That women are taken seriously.

Many also just older women suffer from this situation. They have the feeling that they can be used for everything. But when it comes to taking on really important tasks, they feel like second-class citizens. I want this thinking to have no place in the Church anymore.

As baptized and confirmed we are sons and daughters of God. He created them in the image of God. And I would like to see this idea permeate. Of course there may be different views. But I want our Church to move. We have had standstill. It's also good to take a break. But at some point we have to set off again, otherwise others will pass us by. And above all, many of us go away. And that would be fatal.

Interviewer: The chain forms on Sunday at five past twelve. What time of day is it??

Hucker: Often it is said that it is five to twelve. For us it's already five past twelve, but still very close to twelve. And that's why we want to come together at this time, say why we're involved and get into conversation with each other. And if you want, you are welcome to come with a white scarf or accessory. White as a sign of baptismal grace, bestowed on all in equal measure. And then it would be nice to be together like this and be able to say: "Yes something is moving and we can move the church."

The interview was conducted by Uta Vorbrodt.

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Christina Cherry
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