Maike Hickson

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Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, vice president of the German Bishops' Conference Flickr.com

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German bishops back women refusing to go to Sunday Mass to protest abuse crisis

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

GERMANY, May 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The German Bishops' Conference has surprisingly thrown its support behind a women’s strike run by feminists that calls on women to refuse to enter Catholic churches for one week, including on Sunday, to protest sex abuse in the priesthood. 

The women’s strike, called “Maria 2.0”, is taking place in Germany from May 11 until 18. It is organized by a group of women around the psychologist Andrea Voß-Frick from Münster, Diocese of Münster. Along with protesting against the Church's sex abuse crisis, the women also want to draw attention to their demand for rights of women in the Church, including a demand for female ordination.

Catholics are “bound” to attend Mass every Sunday, states the Catechism of the Catholic Church, adding that “those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” Graves sins are those that cut off God's sanctifying grace from the sinner and bar him or her from entering heaven if never repented of.

The strike has received the explicit support from the German Bishops' Conference as well as from the news website of the German Bishops, Katholisch.de

The vice president of the German bishops’ conference said about the strike: “I like this initiative.”

The German bishops' website section for pastoral care for women has an entry informing women about the strike, giving the link to the initiative and adding the information that, so far, 6,000 persons have expressed their support on the Facebook entry of "Maria 2.0." 

Additionally, the German Bishops' Conference praises the initiative by stating: “From 11 to 18 May, women stop serving the Church and are thus setting an example.” The women are quoted as saying: “We stay outside! We celebrate the services on church yards, in front of the church doors!” They also wrote an Open Letter to Pope Francis, asking for “full access to all Church offices for women,” which so far has been signed by 20,000 people.

The German bishops' news website Katholisch.de also ran a positive report on the event without any hint of negative criticism. 

Bishop Franz-Josef Bode – the vice president of the German Bishops' Conference – gave an interview over the weekend in which he stated: “I like this initiative, in order to set an example for [the promotion of] more participation of women in the Catholic Church.”

Bode admitted that he has some difficulties when women “deny the Eucharistic community” (in the words of the reporter) and make their own celebrations in parochial meeting halls, but then added: “But one has really to take into account the impatience of many women in the Catholic Church. Behind it, there is to be found a deep wound that they are not being properly welcomed in accordance with their service.”

One of the proposed solutions, Bode added, could be the establishment of a female diaconate, as it is currently being discussed by the German bishops, in accord with their newly started “synodal path.” 

Bishop Bode is also known for his support of the idea of blessing homosexual couples.

One Catholic female blogger (from the German blog Beiboot Petri) from the Diocese of Munich wrote on Twitter that her own bishop – Cardinal Reinhard Marx – did not publicly comment on the initiative Maria 2.0. She wrote: “And we didn't hear anything from our Cardinal.”

The German journalist and book author Mathias von Gersdorff commented also on Twitter, saying: “The worst thing about this Church-Revolution – which is being organized according to the patterns of the Marxist class struggle – is that it is being promoted by the bishops and their 'pseudo-synodal path'.” He also posted on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima a picture of the Blessed Mother with the words: “There is only one Holy Mary, Mother of God. Maria 2.0 is a fake.”

The Austrian Catholic news website, Kath.net., points to the active role of the German bishops when it wrote: “In the last days, the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) has promoted on one of its official websites the controversial anti-Church initiative 'Maria 2.0' which calls upon the faithful de facto not to go to Church.”

In the meantime, another group of women is organizing the May 13-21  initiative “Mary, Mother of God,” as a sort of counter-initiative to Maria 2.0. This initiative calls upon women to pray to Our Lady and to grow in a deeper bond with the Mother of God. One of the organizers, Ingrid Malzahn, states that “I am convinced that the initiative Maria 2.0 does not represent the majority of faithful Catholic women.” For her and for many others, she adds, this initiative is rather “repellent and sensational.” In contradistinction, Malzahn says, that her group wishes “prayerfully to address the truly burning problems in our Church.” They are “happily Catholic, and with conviction.”

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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.