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German cardinal opposes use of the abuse crisis to push female priests and abolishing celibacy

Cardinal Rainer Woelki – the archbishop of Cologne – has rejected proposals to allow female priests and abolishing celibacy from a “factional dispute” of bishops in Germany prompted by the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
Mon Feb 18, 2019 - 1:42 pm EST
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Cardinal Rainer Woelki.

COLOGNE, Germany February 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) -- Cardinal Rainer Woelki – the archbishop of Cologne – has responded to what he calls a “factional dispute” in Germany raised by the clergy sexual abuse scandal. He rejects suggestions to abolish priestly celibacy, alter sexual morality and ordain female priests. “There are voices now who think that it is time to throw overboard  everything that until now has been. It is the old times that are not to exist anymore,” he explains, but adds that “I consider this to be a very dangerous word. We stand in a large Tradition.”

In a CNA Deutsch interview he explains “It is not our task to invent a new church.” The Church is not something “given into our hands” at our disposal, but, rather, “as bishops, it is our task to preserve the Church's deposit of Faith as it has been passed on to us from the Apostles and to speak it in our times and to proclaim it anew and also to preserve it for future generations and to express it in such a manner that they also can find Christ as their salvation.”

It is “not accomplished by abolishing celibacy,” he says, “not accomplished by demanding that women have to be admitted to the [ordained or sacramental] offices,” and “also not accomplished by saying that we need a new sexual morality.” Cardinal Woelki concludes his point, “No, the Gospels are, and continue to be, the standard. It is the Faith of the Church that continues to be the norm, as it has been presented to us also by John Paul II in his Catechism.”

In line with Cardinal Woelki's own rejection of the progressivist reform agenda as currently presented in Germany – to include the ordination of female priests – his own general vicar, Markus Hofmann, recently also called for more “reticence.” He doubts that the abolishment of celibacy would be “a reasonable and an especially theologically sound decision.” It is also about “being loyal to the model of Jesus,” he explains. Jesus himself lived in celibacy, and for many reasons. One of the most important reasons for His celibacy is “that  He loved and continues to love the Church like a bride – completely and exclusively, just as a wife loves her husband and a husband loves his wife.”

Another German bishop who opposes the current push for reform is Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, of Regensburg. The dogmatic theologian has called the recent debate – in the wake of the sex abuse crisis in Germany – an “abuse of the abuse.” He said “some circles – also within the Church – abuse the cases of sexual violence in order to offer once more their own recipes, which have already not been helpful in the past, and to twist the crimes into an occasion to create, finally, their own 'different Church'. This is what I call an abuse of the abuse.”

In a recent meeting of the permanent council of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Voderholzer is said to have strongly opposed the idea of organizing a national Synod on the abuse crisis, in which “changes” in the Church would and should be discussed, as well as “new theological answers” in light of “an anthropological perspective.” These are the words of a leaked strategy paper as presented by four German bishops, among them Bishop Peter Kohlgraf who only recently had shown himself to be open to the abolishment of obligatory celibacy. This strategy paper that was leaked by Christ&Welt – the religion section of the German newspaper Die Zeit – showed the prelates also had in mind promotion of “regional solutions” and starting a “synodal process.”

Several observers were astonished to find among the four authors of the controversial strategy paper Bishop Stefan Oster, of Passau, a bishop who last year still had signed a letter protesting the proposed pastoral handout on Communion for Protestant spouses later published by the German Bishops' Conference under the leadership of Cardinal Reinhard Marx.


  celibacy, rainer woelki, vatican summit, women priests

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