(LifeSiteNews) — In light of the very troubling developments in the Catholic Church in Germany and her “Synodal Path,” which is out to question and reform the Church’s long-standing teachings on different topics such as homosexuality, contraception, female ordination and celibacy, a counter-group called Maria 1.0 has been founded.
LifeSite reached out to this group in order to get to know them better and present them to our readers. (See full interview below)
The group was originally founded in 2019 in response to the movement Maria 2.0, which called for female ordination, women’s rights in the Church, and for a strike by not going to Holy Mass for an entire week, a call that even received the support of the German bishops.
Maria 1.0, therefore, is an anti-feminist group that shows that “there are women who have found their home in the Catholic Church, although many media constantly claim the opposite,” as Clara Steinbrecher, the leader of the group Maria 1.0, told LifeSite. These Catholic women work “for the unity of the universal Church and fidelity to the Catholic Magisterium,” she added.
“We see in the Catholic faith a great treasure that needs to be rediscovered,” Steinbrecher went on to say, adding that “our central concern is to bear witness to it – for us, this means ‘evangelization.’”
With refreshing clarity, this Catholic group wishes to defend the faith and spread it. As its speaker told LifeSite:
The Church in Germany needs to wake up, it needs to realize that it is on the wrong track with the Synodal Path, and turn back to Christ and the teachings of the Church. It needs renewal and reform, but in the Holy Spirit. It is necessary to proclaim the faith and the existing doctrine authentically, only then can there be conversion and a growth in the Church.
In response to the current controversial discussions taking place in the Church in Germany, Maria 1.0 wishes to remain faithful to the Church’s Tradition. She calls the Synodal Path a “a frontal attack on the Church.” “We are Marian, Eucharistic, faithful to the Pope, and simply Catholic,” Steinbrecher explained. “We think it is right that God only called men be ordained priests, recognize the meaning and necessity of celibacy, and see Catholic sexual teaching as fulfilling and bringing happiness.”
For this group, it seems out of question for the Catholic Church in Germany to teach the rest of the world on how the Catholic Church should be: “The Church in Germany and pretty much every sacrament is down,” Steinbrecher told LifeSite. “Seminaries are empty, divorce rates are high, very few people receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, and in international comparison, German confessionals are largely deserted. In view of these poor results, it borders on pitiful hubris that we want to show the Universal Church how things can be done better.”
For this Catholic laywoman, it is important that the “Church in Germany needs to wake up, it needs to realize that it is on the wrong track with the Synodal Path, and turn back to Christ and the teachings of the Church.”
With the progressivist spirit so abundant in Germany that seeks to appease the world and not God, Mrs. Steinbrecher foresees a diminishing Church in Germany, “much smaller and simpler in the future. If it comes to that, it will be a salutary process of purification.”
In light of the extreme reform proposals coming out of the Catholic Church in Germany, this group of Catholic laywomen would wish for a clearer intervention of Pope Francis: “Given that Rome is currently more than clear in other contexts without fear of resistance and revolt, we nevertheless hope for a tougher crackdown by the Pope on the Synodal Path.”
Please see here the full interview with Clara Steinbrecher, the leader of the group Maria 1.0
LifeSite: When was Maria 1.0 founded and why?
Clara Steinbrecher: Maria 1.0 was founded in May 2019 by Johanna Stöhr, originally as a response by Catholic women to the Maria 2.0 protest movement. Because when Maria 2.0 called for a women’s strike (not to go to a place of worship or a church service for a week) in May 2019, we were irritated that the DBK (German Bishops’ Conference) even advertised it on their homepage. Maria 2.0, with its slogan “Maria two point zero,” advocated a reform of Catholic positions that must necessarily be implemented so that the Church can still claim a raison d’être in the 21st century. In doing so, they acted as if they spoke for all Catholic women. We had to set that straight: On the one hand, Mary 2.0 by no means speaks for all women, nor are most of the demands things that could ever be implemented in the Church. Furthermore, a strike against the Holy Mass [by staying away for a week] shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of the Faith – how can one strike against that which is supposed to be the source and culmination of our entire lives? We also see in the instrumentalization of the Mother of God (taped mouth, vulva representation at the University of Freiburg, rainbow saint, etc.) an anti-church positioning, which cannot be reconciled with the Catholic faith. With these actions, the religious feelings of not a few Catholics were also hurt.
LifeSite: What are the main goals of your work?
Steinbrecher: Maria 1.0 works for the unity of the universal Church and fidelity to the Catholic Magisterium. The initiative is carried by believers of different spiritualities who, united by the universal teaching of the Church, know themselves represented by it. We want to show that there are women who have found their home in the Catholic Church, although many media constantly claim the opposite. We see in the Catholic faith a great treasure that needs to be rediscovered. Our central concern is to bear witness to it – for us, this means “evangelization.”
Our initiative is based on four pillars: We are Marian, Eucharistic, faithful to the Pope, and simply Catholic.
We think it is right that only called men be ordained priests, recognize the meaning and necessity of celibacy, and see Catholic sexual teaching as fulfilling and bringing happiness. In order to implement our concern, we try to shape the discourse around the Catholic Church through media presence, in addition to a classic apostolate of prayer and information. We try to publish articles in the Catholic media and beyond to draw attention to our positions and our concerns. With different actions (e.g. “Thank you priests” postcards designed by Maria 1.0 with personal words to thank priests for their service) we succeed better and better to encourage many priests and to spur the faithful to live their faith anew and to grow and progress as disciples of Jesus, so that we do not become lukewarm, but full of zeal to bring the message of Christ to the people through our different charisms and in our often very different circumstances. Most recently, we launched a networking opportunity for Catholics throughout the German-speaking world and are also planning theological conferences for the future.
In a positive way we want to make clear that the classical church positions do not need a rework as Maria 2.0 demands and try to make the beauty and truth of Catholic teachings accessible and thus newly accessible to people of all ages and of both genders. In doing so, however, we are by no means ignoring the problems that exist in the Church, but rather we want to show that many reforms that are being called for will not at all solve the problem that is being called for. Necessary church reforms do not arise from divisive demands or from attempts to pander to politics and the spirit of the times. Necessary reforms arise from an attitude of inwardness and prayer and can only be sought WITH the Church, WITH an orientation to the Gospel and WITH the truths revealed by Christ, which the Holy Spirit has preserved unbreakably in the Church.
LifeSite: How do you see the Synodal Path? Where does it lead?
Steinbrecher: We must call the so-called Synodal Path what it has become: a frontal attack on the Church. At the very latest after the second Synodal Assembly of October 3, 2021, it is clear that this non-binding body wants to decide on the truths of faith of the Church by majority vote, as in the case of any association. But the Church is not an association, it is the Body of Christ; about sexual morals, sacraments and the structure of the Church one cannot decide democratically. The Church in Germany and pretty much every sacrament is down. Seminaries are empty, divorce rates are high, very few people receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, and in international comparison, German confessionals are largely deserted. In view of these poor results, it borders on pitiful hubris that we want to show the Universal Church how things can be done better. With the Synodal Path, the Church in Germany will sooner or later abolish itself. You must see it this way, of the 22.2 million baptized (Catholics) in Germany, only 1.3 million (as of 2020, but after corona really low) regularly attend Mass. The reforms are welcomed by many people, but the vast majority of them have already finished with the Church and they will not come back by the Church’s becoming even more secular. On the contrary, the Church is more likely to lose the rest of those who are still there. For these people who are faithful to the faith and doctrine are looking for their spiritual home elsewhere, not in their local parishes, which are becoming more and more secular and hostile to the faith.
LifeSite: Given that there is such a large majority in the Synodal Path that is in favor of the reforms, what is your hope for what you can accomplish with your work?
Steinbrecher: Our work is very loosely related, if at all, to the Synodal Path. Apart from that, what the majority represents is not decisive. Truth is not dependent on majority decisions, but on God’s Revelation in Holy Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. Quite apart from the Synodal Path, we hope our work will draw attention to the fact that there are still Catholics who are faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. Even if they do not enjoy the media attention as progressive forces of the Synodal Path do, they are a group of faithful people that should not be underestimated. We want to network and contribute to the new evangelization through our witness and information. In many places there is a lack of knowledge of the faith and of convincing models of the faith. We want to make up for this lack so that more people will learn to love their Church again. Reform should always represent a return to the origin, a reconsideration of the Apostolic foundation, not its erosion. Church is ultimately not what we make for ourselves, but what Christ has given us and what the Apostles have handed down to us.
LifeSite: How do you see the future of German Catholicism?
Steinbrecher: The Church in Germany needs to wake up, it needs to realize that it is on the wrong track with the Synodal Path, and turn back to Christ and the teachings of the Church. It needs renewal and reform, but in the Holy Spirit. It is necessary to proclaim the faith and the existing doctrine authentically, only then can there be conversion and a growth in the Church. There are also already awakenings and organizations in Germany that strive for this, there you can see the fruits of the Holy Spirit. These oases will blossom and flourish with the help of the Holy Spirit, everything else will perish. In the end, only a Church can endure that asks what God wants and not what people want. All too often the latter becomes the motto – a spiritless and purely human being of the Church. But this will not get the Catholic Church in Germany very far. It may be that the Catholic Church in Germany will be much smaller and simpler in the future. If it comes to that, it will be a salutary process of purification.
LifeSite: What do you think about Pope Francis’ position on the Synodal Path, and would you like to see more intervention from him?
Steinbrecher: Of course, we would like Pope Francis to set clear boundaries for once and make it clear where reform efforts leave the Catholic sector. This has been done to some extent through Roman documents such as the pastoral instruction “The Pastoral Conversion of the Parish,” the Pope’s letter “To the Pilgrim People of God in Germany or the Responsum ad dubium on the question of the blessing of same-sex partnerships. However, the question also arises as to how well he is informed about the Synodal Path in detail. We are aware that a harsh crackdown by the Pope could backfire on him: There could be accusations of reform fatigue on Rome’s part, and even of a deficient correction, since the nuncio attends Synodal Path meetings. Thus, if this were to fail, the blame could again be placed on Rome. Given that Rome is currently more than clear in other contexts without fear of resistance and revolt, we nevertheless hope for a tougher crackdown by the Pope on the Synodal Path.