Women and the priesthood? © Katharina Ebel (KNA)
Catholic theologian Michael Seewald calls for a new debate on priesthood for women in the Catholic Church. However, with some restrictions.
From the point of view of Catholic theologian Michael Seewald, ordaining women would be a "more cautious change" than abolishing celibacy, that is, the obligation of celibacy for priests, he writes in the new ie of "Herder Korrespondenz". But celibacy should then also apply to women priests, said the 29-year-old priest, who is the youngest German professor of dogmatics to teach at the University of Munster.
Even if some dogmatists, Seewald said, "have their hair stand on end at this, it would be worth a thought to ask whether the Roman Church could not ordain women priests while maintaining the celibate way of life for ordained women and men". In 2015, he said, there were only 51 ordinations to the priesthood in all of Germany. Therefore, there must soon be an answer to the shortage of priests. In doing so, those responsible in the church should "seize the opportunity to fundamentally (and not just pragmatically) rethink answers that have lost their plausibility.".
Arguments against it not valid
Women are only "excluded from the ordained ministry because of their gender, which they did not choose," the theologian criticizes. In his view, the arguments that are used again and again to justify the fact that Pope John Paul II was not a priest are not valid. (1978-2005) definitively sealed the "no" to women at the altar and ended the debate about it. If he had really wanted to do this, Seewald said, John Paul II would have. could declare its decision dogma or infallible – but had not done so. Therefore, further debates should not be taboo.
Many arguments against the ordination of women seem contrived, the dogmatist continues. "Lack of persuasive power, however, cannot simply be replaced by the use of ecclesiastical authority." Authority, therefore, cannot replace arguments; convincing arguments must precede the use of authority.
Unlike compulsory celibacy, the decision to live celibate is always a matter of free choice, Seewald stresses. In excluding women from the potential recipients of the sacrament of Holy Orders, however, they would not have a free choice – only on the basis of their sexual destiny: "This is much more problematic than expecting ministers to live celibate lives."