Symbolic image: Strong women © KieferPix (shutterstock)
At the end of the fall plenary session, there was a clear vote. The State Committee of Catholics in Bavaria demands full equality for women. Previously, a chaplain spreads stories of injury.
The women's question in the Catholic Church is not only in the 20. Century broken open. "I accuse our time of rejecting strong spirits, gifted for all good, simply because they are women," noted Spanish mystic and Church scholar Teresa of Avila. This is almost 500 years ago.
Real experiences instead of theological controversies
The regional committee of the Catholics in Bavaria treated the topic with its first digitally held autumn plenary meeting at the weekend from an unusual point of view: It was once not about theological controversies, but about real experiences of women in the church.
In her keynote address, Sister of the Redeemer Sara Thiel presented a series of what she called "stories of hurt" from her practice as a pastor in a Munich parish. The pastoral worker reported about women who were not allowed to be altar servers as girls. Permission for this from Rome did not come until 1992.
Others had been dismissed as "seductresses" by priests, he said. Older women in particular would have told her of degrading questioning about their sex lives in the confessional. In addition to sexualized violence, spiritual abuse of power in the church has so far been completely underexposed.
Dependence on consecrated persons
During the lockdown in the spring, even experienced convent women felt their dependence on consecrated men, said the nun. For example, it was not possible for some convents to celebrate Mass at Easter "because no priest could come". She herself preaches regularly, even on high feasts, in church services, "but always under the sword of Damocles that it is not officially allowed".
In her parish, every church member who has left receives a letter asking them to give reasons for that decision.
At least a quarter respond. Especially young Catholics then often referred to the exclusion of women from the ordained ministry. For example, one mother wrote that she could not raise her daughter in a society in which equal rights would naturally prevail, and at the same time remain in a community in which this was not the case.
Not pragmatism, but a fundamental theological decision
The theologian called for noticing these stories of hurt and "daring to speak out against a culture of fear". The women's ie is not about pragmatism, but about a fundamental theological decision, namely that women, like men, are God's images. In their view, a change of perspective could help in the debate about ordination. Instead of demanding equal rights in access to ministry, more attention should be paid to the fact that many people want female pastors.
However, it cannot be said that nothing has happened in the Catholic Church in terms of women's participation. Many diocesan administrations now have female leaders, and the Munich ordinariate even has a female head of office. This was positively appreciated in the national committee.
How present are women in church committees??
There were also interesting figures on the female presence in ecclesiastical electoral bodies. According to the report, women now dominate the parish councils in all seven Bavarian dioceses and also hold the majority of the chairmanships. In church administrations, however, where money is at stake, women are still strongly underrepresented; they do not even make up a quarter of all members. There are as many as six male colleagues for every one female church pastor.
Such a cultural change takes time, as is well known in Bavaria's highest Catholic committee. Finally, what is written in the Basic Law has not yet been fully realized in society either. For example, the proportion of women on the boards of Dax companies has increased from just six to ten percent in the last four years.
If things continued at this pace, parity would only be achieved in a good 30 years, calculated Stephanie Feder of the Hildegardisverein in Bonn, which promotes programs for the advancement of women in the Catholic Church.