Lay Catholics in Germany remain adamant on the need for fundamental reforms despite the criticism voiced by the Vatican about proposed changes.
The German Association of Catholic Women (kfd) has called on women to preach in Church services. And at their plenary meetings at the weekend, the Federation of German Catholic Youth and the country’s largest organisation of Catholic laypeople, the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), demanded that the resolutions of the Synodal Path reform project be implemented.
As in previous years, Catholic women plan to hold sermons in churches again this month, the KFD said on Monday, adding that so far more than 100 women had said they want to preach in Church services and Eucharistic celebrations around the feast of the apostle Junia (May 17).
This is the fourth time the KFD has called on women to come forward to hold sermons on the so-called Day of Women Preachers in a bid to underline their demand for laywomen and laymen to be allowed to preach in church. “The German bishops must implement the corresponding resolutions of the Synodal Path soon,” the KFD said in a statement.
The Vatican recently rejected such demands for reform, saying women and unordained men would remain banned from preaching in services with a Eucharistic celebration.
The KFD’s statement came after the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ), the umbrella organisation of many Catholic youth organisations, had called for greater courage in pursuing church reforms and a full implementation of the Synodal Path resolutions.
“Our goal as BDKJ is to strengthen synodality in the Catholic Church and to pave the way for democratisation,” BDKJ President Gregor Podschun said at the organisation’s plenary meeting at the weekend. “This is about all believers having a voice and decisions not only being made by a few in positions of power.”
It praised that the Synodal Path had “lifted blessing celebrations for homosexual couples out of the grey area” and officially recognised trans people for the first time in the Catholic Church. However, one core demand had yet to be fulfilled, it added: “The systemic risk factors of sexualised violence have not been adequately dealt with, sufficiently eliminated or their elimination sufficiently demanded.” Here, above all, more courage was needed on the part of the bishops to bring about real structural changes.
The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) also reiterated its determination to stick to the reform path it has embarked upon. It said all dioceses must implement the decisions of the Synodal Path and that it remained committed to continuing the process of joint consultation and decision-making between bishops and laypeople in a Synodal Committee from November onwards.
The ZdK accused some bishops of seeking to block reforms again and again, in part through appeals to the Vatican. “We are currently experiencing a Church that is dominated on several levels by men who are cementing their power, refusing change and further deepening the rifts between the church and the world,” said ZdK President Irme Stetter-Karp. And yet it had been the Bishops’ Conference that had initiated the Synodal Path and had asked laypeople to participate in it.
With regard to the Vatican, she added: “It is important that Rome realises that we are not following a special German path. We are travelling together with many in Europe and worldwide.”
Rome has yet to agree to the joint meeting requested by the leadership of the ZdK and the German Bishops’ Conference. From Rome’s perspective that is probably because the Vatican wants to avoid an official recognition of the German path, insiders said.
The ZdK was self-critical about its own contribution to the reappraisal of sexual abuse in the church. Several speakers at the plenary meeting conceded that for a very long time, the ZdK had not considered this as its task and had always only looked to the bishops to deal with it.
The victims’ advisory board of the German Bishops’ Conference criticised that the voice of abuse victims had yet to be structurally anchored in the planned Synodal Committee.
*Originally reported by KNA Germany.