“A universal church can't go past that”

Osnabruck Bishop Franz-Josef Bode sees no alternative to the reform debate in the Catholic Church in Germany, the Synodal Way. All over the world, questions are being asked about the participation of women and other forms of priesthood.

"We have to deal with this," he said Friday in the program "Klassik al la carte" on NDR Kultur. Questions about the participation of women in the church, the treatment of sexuality and other forms of priesthood arose not only in Germany, but all over the world.

Question about ordination for women

The answers to this question may still differ from continent to continent. "But the next generations will have to deal with it," says the deputy chairman of the German Bishops' Conference.

For the first time at the Amazoas Synod, a large number of bishops asked whether there could not be one with a job and family in addition to the celibate priesthood, Bode said. Moreover, they would have raised the question of an ordination ministry for women. "A world church can't quite get around that either."

Bode rejected accusations that the Synodal Way in Germany endangers the unity of the universal church. Each particular church needs the large church, but the universal church also needs the suggestions of its parts. The German Catholic Church would like to be able to give such suggestions to the world church.

Church services in small circles

Bode can also imagine the ordination of married men ("viri probati") as priests in the German church. This form of priesthood could stand alongside celibate one. Such priests were then not to take on leadership functions in the parishes, but were to be responsible for direct pastoral care on the ground. Only ten percent of Catholics in this country went to church on Sundays. In order to change this again, there is a need for services in a small circle "around the table, just as it started in the early church". Priests of this type are necessary for this, the bishop pointed out.

In Bode's opinion, there will not be a women's priesthood any time soon. "For my lifetime, this is completely unrealistic."But he hopes that the culture in the church will change. Much has already been done, he said, referring to the increasing number of women in leadership positions in the Church. When they had exceeded one third, the thinking in the church would also change. Then the arguments for and against ordaining women to the priesthood will also have to be "revisited".

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