Maike Hickson

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Cardinal Marx proposes men and women preach at Mass

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

July 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – German cardinal Reinhard Marx has suggested that the time is ripe for the laity, men and women, to preach homilies at Mass. 

Last Saturday, the Cardinal delivered a talk to a diocesan assembly of lectors in his Archdiocese of Freising-Munich where he said that he was “a bit disappointed” about some of the homilies he has heard in some parishes. He wondered if the laity might have a  better gift for preaching.

"How does the homily of the future look like? May only the priest preach? Things have to develop further," he said. 

These words come in the wake of an article that was just published on the news website of the German bishops – whose president Marx is — where it was proposed that women should become preachers during Mass. Father Nikodemus Schnabel, the author of this article, asked: “what speaks against a true re-discovery of the liturgical office of the lector and of the female lector, with which only non-clergymen can be tasked?” 

These lectors would then be not only tasked “with the proclamation of the Word of God, but also with its exegesis.” 

Thus, he was clearly proposing a new liturgical office that would include female preachers.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx seems to be going in that same direction when he stated on Saturday that sometimes, he misses an exegetic discussion of the biblical texts in homilies, saying that “it is not being questioned what really is meant [in the text].”

Since “talents are different,” the German prelate raised the question of lay preachers. “Do we not want to say: he who has a talent, he shall speak?” he asked. “May only the priest preach?” In general, Cardinal Marx hopes for “a greater diversity of that which is the homily.”

These comments come shortly after a private and unannounced pre-Amazon Synod meeting took place near Rome, at which several German prelates and theologians participated, among them Cardinal Walter Kasper and Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck. An official summary of that meeting called for the introduction of female deacons. The authors of this summary state about women that they "propose that their leadership be recognized, promoting various ministerial forms of exercising service and authority, and in particular, that reflection on the female diaconate be taken up again in the perspective of Vatican II (cf. LG 29, AG 16 IL 129 c2).”

At that gathering also was present Bishop Erwin Kräutler who, on July 14, expressed his hope in an interview with the Austrian TV channel ORF that the upcoming 6-27 October Pan-Amazon Synod would bring forth “at least female deacons,” next to the married priesthood. If it were for him, female priests would be the goal, however. He asked in this interview: “When two-thirds of these parishes [in his Brazilian diocese of Xingu] are led by women, why can they then not also obtain ordination and preside on Sundays over the Holy Eucharist?”

As LifeSiteNews reported on 19 July, a well-placed source affirms that the female diaconate is the main goal of the Amazon Synod's organizers. “One will demand two things [at the Amazon Synod]: female diaconate and abolishment of celibacy. These are two colossal things. When one cannot push through both, then one will preserve celibacy and will be content with the female diaconate,” the source stated.

Peter Winnemöller, a well-known Catholic journalist and commentator in Germany, was alarmed by Cardinal Marx' remarks about lay preachers. ​​

“And now also lay preachers. The highly active archbishop of Munich and president of the DKB [German Bishops' Conference] does not tire to push forward with his program of destruction,” he wrote on his blog,

He points to the connection with the newly started “synodal path” in Germany which turns the Church in Germany into “a Church of epochal changes.” This “Church of epochal changes,” adds Winnemöller, “will bring most probably not only lay homilies, but also lay celebration [of the Holy Eucharist].”

In light of the newly published numbers of Church membership in Germany – with more than 200,000 Catholics leaving the Church in 2018 (which is an increase of 27%) – some observers wonder why the German bishops are so eager to continue their agenda of reform when it seems to have detrimental effects on the Church.

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.