Maike Hickson

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Cardinal Rainer Woelki

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German cardinal criticizes feminist women’s strike for co-opting Mary’s name

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May 21, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, has publicly positioned himself firmly against a women’s strike run by feminists that called on women to refuse to enter Catholic churches for one week (May 11-18), including on Sunday, to protest sex abuse in the priesthood and to draw attention to their demand for rights of women in the Church, including a demand for female ordination. The women's strike called itself “Maria 2.0” and was uncritically announced, if not promoted, by both the official website of the German bishops, as well as on their own news website.

Later on, a few bishops expressed some mild or soft reservations about the fact that the women's strike included asking women that they not attend Mass on Sunday, which is, in such a deliberate case, a "grave sin" according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

On May 17, during a Holy Mass at the German Marian Shrine in Bödingen, Cardinal Woelki distanced himself from the women's strike and criticized it for co-opting of Mary's name to champion a "mainstream" cause. He said: “Here in Bödingen, we do not meet a Mainstream-Mary; here we encounter the original, here we meet a Mary who does not proclaim just any kind of truths, here we meet a Mary who is not being used for the implementation of certain ecclesial-political considerations.”

Contrary to this political use of the Blessed Mother, the German prelate pointed to the Mother of God as a woman of truth: “Here, we encounter a woman who stands for timeless truths which are decisive for the salvation of our lives, for the salvation of our souls.”

The statue of Our Lady of Bödingen depicts a sorrowful Mary holding her Crucified Son in her arms.

Cardinal Woelki also pointed out that, during the Council of Ephesus in 421, Bishop Cyril of Alexandria is said to have called the Blessed Mother the “scepter of orthodoxy.”

“Mary is also the defeater of all heresies,” he said. These ancient titles, he explained, mean “that Mary is in the service of orthodoxy, that Mary is in the service of truth,” which is “timeless” and “which we do not create ourselves.” It is truth “that has been given to us by God Himself,” Woelki continued. This truth has been “revealed to us by God” and it “makes us free, because it leads us outside of all of the constrictions of our own erring human paths, and because it leads us into the vastness of God, which is Light and Life," where we encounter Jesus Christ, he added.

God Himself, Woelki continued, has “given Mary to us as the servant of this Truth, in order to lead us, through her to this truth.”

In view of our eternal salvation, there is Jesus Christ as True Son and True God. The Council of Ephesus declared Mary as the “Theotokos,” the mother of the True God, Jesus Christ. He was, Woelki explained, from the beginning, “God's True Son.” At the Cross, the Son of God truly died for us, not just as a man who was somehow “connected with the Son of God.”

Thus, the prelate explained, to confess that Mary is the Mother of God means at the same time to confess “Jesus Christ who is True God and True Man.”

Another truth that is being taught to us is the fact that Jesus Christ was conceived “by the Holy Ghost,” Cardinal Woelki stated in his homily. This truth shows “His Power, and His Greatness.” “Many have today difficulties with this expression 'conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary'” he said, and added: “But what we, as men, consider to be impossible, does not consequently need to be impossible with God.”

He who denies the virginity of the Mother of God, the prelate explained, must ask himself whether he finally “takes seriously the Living God in His Omnipotence as Creator.” He who denies this aspect, also denies that Jesus is the Son of God. 

By sending to the world His Son, explained Woelki, God “wanted to save us, to make us happy.” He has enabled us “for a life with Him in eternity.”

Mary also shows us “the truth about ourselves,” according to the German bishop, that we all are, “before God, nothing but lowly maids and servants,” as she herself says it in the Magnificat. But at the same time, she praises God for He “has done great things unto her,” Woelki explained. And God has planned the same for each one of us: the “participation in Jesus Christ”; “to enter into His Pasqual Glory,” and “to be always, in Christ, with the Father.” This is what we may expect at the end of our lives. As Mary opened herself to God in the “Fiat,” Woelki added, we, too, are to open ourselves to God.

Mary is now in heaven in all its glory, the prelate said, and “with it, she is also the great sign in the sky, which gives us orientation in the confusion of our days.” Thus, still today, “Mary is the scepter of orthodoxy,” Cardinal Woelki stated, “she is the defeater of all heresies and she is servant of the truth.”

“As Star of the Sea, she shines a light on our pilgrimage path, and she throws rays of her light upon us,” he said.  

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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.