“Women have other place in society”

Appointment to Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has caused a stir: Social scientist Jutta Allmendinger joins other celebrities in campaign for more women in leadership positions.

CBA: Professor Allmendinger, were you surprised when you learned of your appointment?

Allmendinger: I was really surprised, I had not expected that. The Pontifical Academy recently contacted me by e-mail, I declared my readiness, and last week I received the official letter of appointment, which I am very happy about.
CBA: You are considered a representative of a very modern image of women and families. Together with several other celebrities, you recently launched a campaign for more women in leadership positions. The Catholic Church is having a rather difficult time. Do you also want to cooperate so that something changes there??
Allmendinger: Since I was appointed, I ame that my expertise and my position are also welcome. It's certainly an advantage that I have an unbiased attitude toward the Catholic Church and am basically an optimistic person. It would certainly be exaggerated to believe that I alone can change something in the church with my advice and expertise.

But I am happy to enter into the discourse and show that women have a different place in society than the one the church often assigns them. As a social scientist who has headed major research institutions since 2003, I am experienced in dealing with different disciplines and points of view. I'm happy to contribute this experience and my joy in dialogue.

CBA: Are you yourself church-affiliated?
Allmendinger: I come from a Protestant family and continue to belong to the Protestant Church. I have good contacts with the Catholic Church. I know Cardinal Reinhard Marx well and benefit a lot from his suggestions and ideas. At the same time, however, I have many contacts with other religions.
CBA: What is the significance of your Protestant upbringing?
Allmendinger: My parents' home was very sheltered, so my confirmation class at the age of 13 was the first place where I met young people from other social classes and milieus. I have learned an incredible amount from them and benefited greatly from the meetings. These and other encounters were important motivations for me to study social sciences.
CBA: Can you explain this in more detail?

Allmendinger: I deal a lot with the question of what can bring people from different circles together. The rooms of the church are very important for me there. We're noticing that right now in these pandemic times when we're going to physical distance and church services are often only possible digitally.

In the same way, I would like to follow up on the debate on trust initiated by economist Kenneth Arrow, who died in 2017 and was also a member of the Pontifical Academy. He described trust as the lubricant for society.

CBA: Among many believers, that's exactly what has been lost – that is, trust in the institution of the church in light of the abuse crisis, for example. How can the church win this back??
Allmendinger: I am firmly convinced that we need the churches. Lost trust can only be regained by the church with honesty, seriousness, openness and above all self-criticism. You can't say that often enough to those who are in decision-making positions. You must appear with a strong backbone, both internally and externally. And that's why it's good when this is admonished from the outside, after all, the Vatican has enough to do with reform processes right now itself.
CBA: Currently, even the members of the Pontifical Academy only meet digitally. Look forward to seeing the Vatican premises sometime soon then?
Allmendinger: I know Rome and the Vatican City State, and of course the culture and history of the place carry with them a special significance once again. But honestly, it doesn't matter whether the meetings take place in Rome or somewhere else in the world. What's important to me are the ideas and the people I meet with. I am happy when we all sit at one big table and I can contribute something to the upcoming debate.
CBA: Look forward to a possible meeting with Pope Francis?
Allmendinger: Of course. I like the openness that I sense in Pope Francis. And his modesty, which he showed as soon as he took office, for example by dispensing with ostentatious stagings.

In terms of content, I also see a desire for change toward more modernity in social ies. So Pope Francis takes a clearly more liberal position toward homosexual people than his predecessors did. Even a blessing of homosexual partnerships seems to be no longer excluded. Still only first steps. For the catholic church it would be very important in my eyes that they are followed by actual changes.

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