Discrimination against women and queer people in the Catholic Church must be identified and critically questioned more forcefully, according to the German theologian Julia Knop.
“Theology can show what function gender-based discrimination has in the church’s doctrinal system: for anthropology, sexual ethics, but very clearly also for the theology of ministry and the church’s power structure as a whole,” the professor of dogmatics said on Tuesday at the Albertus Magnus patronal festival of the catholic faculty of the University of Erfurt. “Queer” is a collective term for sexual minorities, among whom homosexuals are the largest group.
Justice, respect and dignity were at issue, said Knop. Catholic contempt for and hostility towards women was not a matter of opinion, “it is a grievance and must be named as such.” She conceded that the Catholic Church did not deny that unequal treatment, i.e. discrimination, based on gender, sexual identity and orientation took place in its teaching and practice. But the church rejected that this was unjust or placed women at a disadvantage. “On the contrary, it says it is warranted for religious reasons and is covered by the recourse to religious freedom. By treating the sexes unequally, the church says it is following God’s plan for men and women,” Knop said.
It was the task of theologians to strongly object to such religiously based discrimination, Knop said. She criticised that demands for gender justice were sometimes vilified as constituting extreme positions. “Or people claim diversity of opinion: they say there are just different positions on gender issues that have to be tolerated and allowed to stand side by side. This not only trivialises one’s own ambitious claim to truth. Above all, it trivialises the grave consequences borne by those who suffer church discrimination.”