Women now fill 40 percent of diocesan pastoral leadership positions in Germany
REGENSBURG, Germany, August 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Germany’s bishops are touting the number of women involved in diocesan leadership positions in an effort to enable “a sustainable cultural change.”
Ten of Germany’s 27 dioceses now have women as directors of pastoral work.
"The number of diocesan pastoral care workers is a success in increasing the proportion of women in management positions,” said Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, president of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) Pastoral Commission and the Sub-commission.
“To enable a lasting cultural change, about a third of women were necessary,” the bishop said. “I am pleased that at a national level we have achieved a figure of 40 percent.”
The DBK had committed at a February 2013 meeting to various changes put forth in a document titled “The interaction between women and men in service of the life of the Church." The bishops adopted the document with the goal of increased the proportion of women in management positions.
A prevalent misconception fostered by the left and advocates of a female priesthood is that the Church discriminates against women. This is generally attributed to the idea that Church leadership roles still seem to go primarily to men, and that is despite a prevalence of women in pastoral work already throughout the Church.
The misconception also does not take into account Church Tradition that a woman — the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession to Christ — has a pivotal role in mankind’s salvation.
Among the female German pastoral directors’ responsibilities are redesign of pastoral areas, fostering marriage, family and life counseling, emergency counseling, migrant outreach, and dialogue between religions.
The women are members of the executive bodies of their dioceses and advise the bishops, the DBK statement said, and “many of them also bring their theological and pastoral competences into one of the 14 commissions of the German Bishops' Conference.”
A page on the bishops’ conference website shows the directors, their experience, and pastoral priorities.
Some of the pastoral leaders offered comments in the DBK statement (translated).
"Pastoral work becomes more diverse, more experimental, more project-oriented,” said Mechthild Schabo, director of the Center for Pastoral and Society in the Diocese of Trier. “It is important to me to support the practice of the Church in the different places with our many competences, and to provide effective support. "
"The church of the future is for me to make every day a new experience of the Church as a sacrament of the love of God for the people," Sister Gudrun Steiß, head of the Pastoral Office of the Archbishopric of Hamburg, said.
And Elisabeth Neuhaus, head of the Department of Pastoral Care and Annunciation in the Diocese of Dresden-Meissen, wants "to use the power given with the function as a living service and, on the background of the Gospel, as many — even contradicting — voices within the church, between confessions, politics and religion (sic) … "
“This is good for the Church,” Bishop Bode said. “The face of the Church is changing. I hope that this will encourage young women to take up leadership posts in the Church.”
Early this year, Bishop Bode said in an interview that Holy Communion for non-Catholics married to Catholics is a very real possibility that could occur soon. He has also expressed notable acknowledgement for homosexual unions, along with acceptance for divorced and “remarried” Catholics to receive Communion.
The German Bishops’ Conference also recently issued guidelines on marriage celebrated in the Traditional Roman Rite in its dioceses that conflict with an authorization approved by Pope Francis allowing priests of the Society of St. Pius X to celebrate weddings.
The German bishops voted in 2015 to allow Church employees to publicly defy Catholic teaching, and they gave qualified approval of the “morning after pill” for rape victims in 2013. Also in 2015 the Conference published an essay supportive of gay “marriage.”
And in February they issued a formal statement that dissented from the Church's teaching on Communion, penance, and marriage.