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September 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Some 800 people associated with a feminist organization surrounded Germany’s Cologne Cathedral over the weekend to protest what the group called inequality between the sexes within the Catholic Church.

Many of the protesters that formed a human chain around the cathedral were women from an activist group called Maria 2.0, Crux reported.

The group pushes for the Catholic Church in Germany to permit women to hold leadership roles, the report said.

The protesters surrounding the German cathedral on Sunday also demanded more transparent handling of clergy sex-abuse cases.

The Maria 2.0 Facebook page states the group’s mission as:

“We inform, network and act for a profound change in the Roman Catholic Church.”

Maria 2.0’s website states, “Maria 2.0 is not a group of a particular church, but a free initiative of women.”

In January, the group wrote an open letter to Pope Francis comparing the Church’s clergy sex-abuse crisis with exclusion of women from ministry, specifically ordination.

It stated in part, “We believe that the structure that favors and covers abuse is also the one that excludes women from ministry and consecration and thus from fundamental choices and control in the church.”

The letter also announced the group’s strike in Germany on May 11-18 to protest the sex-abuse crisis and demand rights for women in the Church, including ordination. 

During the strike, the women pledged not to enter a church or perform any service, resulting in their missing Sunday Mass and thus committing grave sin, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The strike had the support of the German bishop’s conference.

Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, distanced himself from the women's strike and censured it for co-opting the Blessed Mother’s name to campaign for a “mainstream” cause. 

“Here in Bödingen, we do not meet a Mainstream-Mary,” he said. “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.”

The feminist group is conducting an action week September 23-29 with the theme “Make yourself strong for a gender-equitable church.”

The Maria 2.0 protest comes as Germany’s bishops are defying the Vatican by conducting their own synod assembly that has been criticized for challenging Church teaching on sexuality, priestly celibacy, and women in ministry.

The German Church has long operated, to a degree, independently of oversight from Rome and Church doctrine, and the German bishops’ recent actions indicate no sign of change from that path.

The German “synodal path,” it has been said, mirrors the upcoming Amazon Synod with “a restructuring of the Universal Church” in mind.

The October 6-27 Pan-Amazon Synod and its working document have been criticized over a number of issues, and it’s expected the Synod will be used to undermine Church teaching to advance radical ideas incompatible with Catholic doctrine in the areas of sexuality, pantheistic views, women’s ordination and priestly celibacy.

The Church cannot ordain women as priests, as Christ chose an all-male priesthood with his apostles, who were the first bishops.

Pope Francis has affirmed that women cannot be ordained as well; still, the fears surrounding the Amazon Synod remain.