The Synodal Path reform project wants to strengthen the role of women in Catholic worship services. After a long struggle, a paper to this effect was adopted by the Synodal Assembly in Frankfurt on Friday morning, with a majority of about 90 percent. The paper calls for a general permission that would allow qualified and commissioned women and men to preach at masses in Germany. Up to now, only ordained clergy have been allowed to do so.
The text originally contained demands that were even more far-reaching. It included the possibility of non-ordained persons being able to conduct baptisms and assist at Church weddings, but also the proposal to examine “lay confession” and the participation of laypeople in the anointing of the sick. Whether or not non-priests can be involved in the leadership of parishes will also be looked at.
At the request of Auxiliary Bishop Matthaeus Karrer (Stuttgart), these questions will now be discussed in a further consultation process in which religious orders and lay associations will also participate.
In the course of a lively debate, bishops expressed different views on the question of what role laypeople should have in administering sacraments. While some, such as Bishop Michael Gerber of Fulda, advocated new roles for laypeople, others, such as Auxiliary Bishop Ansgar Puff of Cologne, expressed concern that this would establish a kind of “sacraments in a light version”.
Bishop Bertram Meier of Augsburg said he did not want clerics to be pushed aside “in order to then actually ask the question: Why do we still need ordained people?” Katharina Ganz, a Franciscan sister, replied that it was not clerics who were being pushed aside, but women who were repeatedly excluded from Church life.
The question of opening up the priesthood to women in the Catholic Church is not explicitly addressed in the text.
*Originally reported by KNA Germany.