“We need solutions”

The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Georg Batzing, speaks out in favor of far-reaching changes in the Catholic Church. Among other things, he suggested a change in the rules of the Catechism in matters of homosexuality.

He emphasized this in the interview of "Herder Korrespondenz" (January). Pope John Paul II's 1992. The "World Catechism" published by the Catholic Church is intended to be a "sure norm for instruction in the faith" and an "authentic reference text for the exposition of Catholic doctrine.".

Catechism says it is not a sin to have homosexual feelings. Homosexuals are to be treated with "respect, compassion and tact" without discrimination. Homosexual acts, however, are "not okay in themselves".

Church blessing for couples?

Batzing also suggests church blessings for couples who cannot marry in church: "We need solutions for this that not only take effect in private, but also have a public visibility – but make it clear that no marriage is endowed."

In addition to homosexual couples, for example, people who remarry civilly after a divorce can no longer marry civilly according to Catholic teachings. Such blessings may be feasible without official recognition from the Vatican, he said.

In the interview, the Limburg bishop also advocates further reforms, such as in the participation of women in the church. In order to discuss more far-reaching changes, he considers a new Church-wide council conceivable.

Arguments against women priests are less and less convincing

According to Batzing, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to justify the ban on ordination of deacons and priests for women in the Catholic Church. The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference went on to say in the interview: "But I must honestly say that I am also aware that these arguments are becoming less and less convincing and that there are well-developed arguments in theology in favor of opening up the sacramental ministry to women as well."

As a first step, he often mentioned here the diaconate of women, that is, the ordination of deacons as the first step before the ordination of priests and bishops. Because here he sees a leeway, according to Batzing: "For the office of the priest, the popes since John Paul II. said in unison that the question had been answered – and yet it is on the table."

John Paul II. had declared in 1994 that the Church has "no authority whatsoever" to ordain women as priests. Supplementing he had stressed "that all believers of the church have to adhere definitively to this decision". Among the reasons repeatedly given is that Jesus called only men to be apostles and successors.

Statement by Bishop Voderholzer

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, in his Christmas sermon, justified the rejection of women's priesthood by saying that the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches ame that the representation of Christ, the head of the Church, naturally requires the male gender as a sign.

Because women are not allowed to become Catholic priests, they are thus also barred from being ordained as deacons, as long as this is considered the first step of the ordained ministry and thus inseparable from the priesthood.

Pope Francis, while repeatedly advocating greater participation by women, has so far rejected ordained offices for women. Those who want to strengthen the participation of women in the church only by allowing them to be ordained are falling short and "clericalizing" women, he wrote, among other things. At the same time, he set up a commission on the diaconate of women.

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