Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 5.11.2019
German Catholic women have launched a weeklong boycott by suspending voluntary work in churches. Their protest has crystallized fury over a male-only priesthood and bishops’ foot-dragging on sex scandals.
One of the initiators, Andrea Voss-Frick, said the Maria 2.0 movement – conceived early this year at a women’s parish bible meeting in Münster, a hub of German Catholicism – had received endorsement from Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna. The Virgin Mary is referred to as Maria in German.
The impulse came as the initiators realized that the Vatican’s pronouncement and church teachings of hope “didn’t come across at all” amid abuse and cover-ups, said Voss-Frick.
Unsurprised by such reactions was Münster’s Holy Cross parish priest Stefan Jürgens.
“That’s what I have experienced in the 25 years I’ve been in the ministry: the fiercest opponents of priesthood for women are among women!,” said Jürgens.
“They are just accustomed because of their upbringing that they are the ones serving; that they’re rather subordinate themselves. But the young women can’t stand it anymore,” he said.
A grassroots Catholic women’s movement – using the motto of the Virgin Mary that should be given her voice – launched a week of disobedient non-service on Saturday – with the backing of major lay organizations and even singular bishops.
The women planned to hold rites outside churches, without priests, and withhold services inside parishes until May 18 at at least 50 locations to back their call that the Vatican open the priesthood to women and drop celibacy.
Left undone will be attendances at mass and committees, parish housework and the liturgical readings – tasks left typically to regular churchgoing women. The central protest will be outdoors in the northwestern city of Münster on Sunday.
On Friday, two nationwide groups – the Catholic German Women’s League (KDFB) and the Catholic Women’s Community of Germany (KfD) – described the strike call as an “important signal” and urged bishops not to ignore it.