Over 200 German-speaking theologians have now signed an open letter calling for married priests and “women in Church ministry” but a German bishops’ conference spokesman says there is nothing new in the demands.
As of Feb. 15, 227 theologians from three German-speaking countries had signed their names to a letter entitled “The Church in 2011: A necessary departure,” which was first endorsed by 143 signatories on Feb. 3, CNA reports.
“The deep crisis of our Church,” the theologians wrote, “demands that we address even those problems which, at first glance, do not have anything directly to do with the abuse scandal and its decades-long cover-up.” Many German Catholics, they said, have come to believe that “deep-reaching reforms are necessary.”
The theologians’ program of “reform” would involve greater lay participation in selecting bishops and pastors, increased tolerance for different styles of liturgical worship, and a decisive break with what they described as attitudes of “paternalism” and “moral rigorism.”
More specifically, the theologians asserted that “the Church also needs married priests and women in church ministry.”
Although some interpreters regarded the statement on women in ministry as a call for women’s ordination, it was not clear whether the statement carried this meaning, or merely acknowledged the important roles women have always played in the life of the Church, CNA says.
Father Hans Langendörfer, secretary for the German bishops’ conference, responded to the letter on their behalf on Feb. 8. He expressed appreciation for the theologians’ engagement with the state of the German Church, acknowledging that they had raised “weighty issues” that should “no longer be avoided.”
But Father Langendörfer noted that the proposals had been made with some frequency in the past.
“In essence,” he said, “the memorandum gathers once again ideas already often debated.” Many of these ideas, he said, were “in disagreement with the theological convictions and statements of the Church at the highest level.”
Source: Catholic News Agency