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Germany’s Synodal Way leader says exclusion of women from ordination drives women from Church

Irme Stetter-Karp, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics. /

Prague, Czech Republic, Feb 8, 2023 / 11:10 am (CNA).

A leader of the controversial German Synodal Way said in a speech at Europe’s synod meeting Wednesday that the exclusion of women from ordination drives women from the Church.

Irme Stetter-Karp, the president of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), addressed delegates in the meeting in Prague on Feb. 8.

“The stubborn adherence to the dual anthropology and the confinement of women to the space outside of the ordained ministry tends to drive women, especially young women, out of the Church in the 21st century,” Stetter-Karp said.

Posing a question “to those who do not want to allow change” on the “the women’s question,” she asked: “How do you explain the multiple gifts and vocations of women in the Catholic Church worldwide if the Holy Spirit did not want it? I would like an honest answer to that.”

Stetter-Karp is one of three leaders of Germany’s Synodal Path who are playing an active role in the continental stage of the Church’s ongoing Synod on Synodality as official national delegates sent by Germany.

Thomas Söding, the German lay central committee’s vice president, also spoke to the assembly on Wednesday about why he believes there is a crisis of vocations in Europe.

Söding said: “We are experiencing a crisis of priestly vocations throughout Europe. What does it tell us?”

“I know there are different answers in the room. My conviction: We think too narrowly of the priestly vocation. We think too narrowly of God’s grace. We tie it to sex. We tie it to ‘state of life.’ If you want an opening, you don’t make the ministerial priesthood small, you make it large,” he added.

Bishop Georg Bätzing, who has served as the president of the Synodal Path since 2020, told Europe’s synod delegates on Feb. 6 that Germany’s Synodal Way has heard that “new forms are being sought to organize the priesthood” and that “the Church should be open to people whose way of life does not conform to the norms of the catechism, including queer people.”

“We hear and understand these concerns. I share them personally. I see my task as chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference in bringing them into the global process that is intended to renew the Church,” Bätzing said.

A tale of two synods

The German Synodal Way is a distinct initiative from the global Synod on Synodality initiated by Pope Francis in October 2021.

In Pope Francis’ first interview in 2023, the pope decried the German Synodal Way as elitist, unhelpful, and running the risk of bringing ideological harm to Church processes.

From the outset, the German process, which is not a synod, has courted controversy.

Participants have voted in favor of draft documents calling for the priestly ordination of women, same-sex blessings, and changes to Church teaching on homosexual acts, prompting accusations of heresy and fears of schism.

Concerns have been publicly raised by Church leaders from Poland, the Nordic countries, and around the world.

Fears of a “dirty schism” from Germany have increased over the past few months as organizers of the Synodal Way in November refused a moratorium on the process suggested by the Vatican.

Pope Francis launched the global consultation process leading to the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023 and 2024 with a call to “encounter, listen, and discern.”

Synod organizers recently clarified that the sole theme to be discussed in each stage of the process is the official theme assigned by the pope: “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission.”

The four-year synod process is currently in its continental stage with seven continental assemblies meeting in Fiji, Czech Republic, Thailand, Ethiopia, the United States, Lebanon, and multiple locations across Latin America.

The contributions of the German delegation participating in the European Continental Assembly will be included in the final document that will be debated and approved by the 200 European delegates — including 65 women and 46 bishops — on Feb. 9.

Following these discussions, a second private meeting among 35 bishops, the presidents of each of Europe’s bishops’ conferences, will collectively review the document, listen to speeches by each of the bishops, and produce a second final document.

The final documents produced by the assembly in Europe will influence what priorities and themes should be taken up in the Synod of Bishops taking place at the Vatican this fall.

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  1. As a woman myself, I find these demands from women for ordination and same sex blessings/marriage annoying in the extreme. I volunteer in a public ministry at our church and love it. I dont need to be a priest. I dont need other women telling me I am second class if such an option is only for men. I am not second class, nor do I feel that way. I pity the women whose self image is so weak they constantly need to be affirmed by getting what they want. IF being a priest/ minister is so important to them, they are free to move to any of the many Protestant denominations which allow such things.The insistent demand for this in some quarters appears to me to smack of a lack of humility and a great deal of pride. No thanks.

    • LJ, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Additionally, I would bet that the same women who are demanding ordination rebel against large parts of the Church’s teachings, such as the fact that contraception and abortion are wrong. I’d hazard a guess that they don’t believe in the Real Presence, either.

  2. I’d advise Irme Stetter-Karp to look into the Lutheran church. They permit just about everything her little heart desires: women “priests”, abortion, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, contraception, fornication, you name it. She’ll have found heaven on earth. God knows she won’t be enjoying heaven in heaven.

    • Oh, come on. I know how she feels.

      That’s why I don’t ever go for medical check-ups. Because they won’t let me be a doctor.

    • Don’t be so quick. I am in favor of women finally removing their historical church yoke.
      • Genesis presents gender equality, rather than male leadership, as humanity’s created state. 1 It teaches that man and woman are created equally in the image of God and together have dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26–27). Their equality is not limited to spiritual standing before God, but applies to their dominion over the earth.

      May God intercede to help the Church end this tortous dilemma.

  3. Likewise, the Anglicans have done everything she wants, and have they experienced an explosion of vocations? Yeah, didn’t think so.

  4. We read: “How do you explain the multiple gifts and vocations of women in the Catholic Church worldwide if the Holy Spirit did not want it? I would like an honest answer to that.”

    Maybe it’s about Christ’s “calling,” rather than the multiplicity of “gifts” and other “vocations”? Not to be conflated with the “calling” are the gifts, yes, which are many and sometimes even include that of listening:

    “The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides” (1 Cor 12:7-11).

    As for the “calling,” in addition to “honest answers,” can there also be honest questions? Does the Holy Spirit displace Christ?

    “…Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself [instituted by Christ], in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful” (St. John Paul II, Ordinato Sacerdotalis, 1994).

        • Genesis 1:1-2 says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).

          John 1:1 says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

          In man’s linear temporal order, God the Father was revealed first. Next, God revealed God the Son. God the Son said that He will send the Spirit. This is man’s linear temporal order.

          God’s eternal order is not man’s temporal order. The three persons are one God, of one essence, one being, one substance, one divine will, without separation or division. Since man inhabits a limited time and space, his language reflects his inability linguistically describe three eternal spiritual divine persons in one spiritually intuitive word (other than “GOD”), Man’s language is not eternal.

          The Holy Spirit is NOT subordinate to the Father or to the Son. He is ONE with them. Theologians have traditionally described the Spirit as the bond of mutual love which exists between the Father and the Son.

  5. I hope Irme Stetter-Karp is correct. I think the entire wimmin’s ordination crowd should be driven from the Church.

  6. There is a book in my library on Catholic converts, from 20-25 years ago if memory serves, and one of the chapters is devoted to the story of a woman who left her leftist-serving-Protestant denomination, citing the problem of leftist women flooding into the ministry positions in her church, and she says this (these words are from memory, but the bluntness is a very faithful version of what she said) about the purpose of women priests: “the purpose of women priests is to sanctify abortion. I left that Church because real Christians don’t kill babies.”

    Candidly stated, she makes quite clear, by her own hindsight, what women’s ordination was all about in her former church.

    And the abortion advocacy goes hand-in-hand with their allies who promote sodomy, like the McElroys and Hollerichs of “Team Francis” (as Austen Ivereigh et al have called themselves).

    But its no wonder that they have the stage now under the Pontiff Francis: money talks in the polluted times of our Catholic Church, and German Church Tax money flows like a river into the Vatican basin. There is no doubt that Jesus, who called his own contemporaries “an adulterous generation,” would find that our Church likewise can be so labelled.

  7. The German Gutenberg introduced moveable type into the West. And, today, everything is interchangeable! Especially ecclesial roles, like the fluidity of gender theory. And, likewise, by swimming only a few letters around with Mire Stutter-Carp, we have this “honest”[!] revelation of the Jolly Spit:

    the “Synod on Synodality” = the Sodomy on Sodomality!

  8. I have a test to see if the Holy Spirit is blessing a movement. If it is growing and thriving, a sign of blessing. If a movement, order or group is dying out, a sign of not being blessed. I have found if you watch orders and movements that are living an authentic Catholic life, true to their charism they grow. i.e. the Dominican Sisters in Ann Arbor MI. When an order strays, they lack vocations. Perhaps the vocational crisis in Germany is a result of inauthenticity?

  9. The German Synodalists claim to be mystified as to the reason for the priestly vocation crisis in Europe. May I suggest Stephen White’s article in today’s The Catholic Thing, “Vocational Discernment and the Priestly Vocation Crisis”?

  10. This argument for women’s ordination seems way out beyond reality. The fact is that male dominated religions tend to thrive, while female dominant religions do not last long. My Exhibit A is Islam, where men completely dominate. Islam is expanding while Christianity, captive to feminization and feminized males, is shrinking. The biological fact is that men and women are different. The ideology whose goal is the demize Western Civilization, socialism/communism, denies biology and science, claiming that reality is “socially constructed,” meaning that society creates differences between the sexes. It claims that you can put lipstick on Bruce Jenner and therefore make him into a woman. Absurd!

    • Another totally reasonable explanation, sir, is sin. It is sin that resulted in the subordination of women (see Genesis 3:16). The subordination of women to men is the result of sin. And Jesus come to overturn sin. You are also conflating “feminization” (whatever that is) with women being able to enter fully into who God wants them to be. I think that you have confused your culture’s misogyny with the purpose of Christianity.

  11. It’s tautological — every single matter on which the Church teaches drives away people who disagree with it. The only way to have a church that everyone accepts is to have a church that teaches nothing at all.

  12. She should be more tolerant and respectful of other people’s religions. Catholicism does not believe in women’s ordination. The fact that she wants to forcibly change my faith is intolerant and hateful on her part. Perhaps she should join the Anglican Communion where overnight she could have everything she wants. But alas, that would require her to give up her German church salary, she would have to give up her self-proclaimed identity as a “brave church reformer” and she’d have to understand that she is actually intolerant of orthodox Catholics. I’m starting to believe that people like this are actually bullies. They join something they don’t believe in and then browbeat everyone to change their religion, and if they don’t they isolate and marginalize anyone who doesn’t agree with them. I’m tired of it. No one is forced to be a member of the Catholic Church.

  13. “…the priesthood does not form part of the rights of the individual but stems from the economy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The priestly office cannot become the goal of social advancement: no merely human progress of society or of the individual can of itself give access to it: it is of another order.

    It therefore remains for us to meditate more deeply on the nature of the real equality of the baptized which is one of the great affirmations of Christianity; equality is in no way identity, for the Church is a differentiated body, in which each individual has his or her role. The roles are distinct and must not be confused; they do not favour the superiority of some vis-a-vis the others, nor do they provide an excuse for jealousy; the only better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (1 Cor 12-13). The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are not the ministers but the saints.”

    The above is from Pope Paul VI’s CDF Prefect Cardinal Seper, 1976.

  14. The long explanation for why women cannot be priests was published by Ignatius Press. It is a Ph.D. dissertation by Manfred Hauk, Ph.D, titled Women in the Priesthood?:A Systematic Analysis in the Light of the Order of Creation and Redemption. Kudos to Ignatius Press for keeping this 1988 publication in print.

    The short explanation for why women cannot be priests is that a priest is a living icon (concept may require contemplation and some reading) of Jesus Christ. A woman cannot be a living icon of a man, just as a man cannot give birth to a human being.

  15. The Germans are messing up the Catholic Church. Not everyone should be a Priest. We have different calls in the Church. The Anglicans ordain women but the people are still going away and Churches are empty. Majority have joined the Catholic Church protesting ordination of women. Those advocating for ordination of women are selfish and should not even be Christians. The women have their own vocation. Jesus did not even make His mother one of the Apostles! If a woman cannot serve as a professed nun, she cannot be a priest.

  16. Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes 2/ 11 – day that the Pope Emer had chosen to announce his decision to retire .. a Feast Day a day which falls about 66 days after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – of the glorious event of fruit of God’s work in purifying a line to bring forth The Woman conceived in holiness, free of post fall carnal effects ; we too blessed to receive its effects – ‘ O Mary , share with us the Immaculate Conception ‘, for generational healing ,to do away with the flood waters of carnal evils , even as that wide river that flows by the place of apparition where in is hidden the healing spring …

    The spirit of AntiChrist as the Nazi evils with its new age ties that deny the dignity of life in the Truth of Incarnation that had flamed through Germany – the current trials facing The Church there – likely from the same fire and flames …calling to be put out by the healing waters as of Lourdes ..for healing of generational evils rejoice in the abundant graces and blessings in God given roles and bodies and identities hope for the glory to be restored – a glory that manifested on the face of Adam as sunbeams of light around his mouth – now in its extinct glory as the facial hair – role of Adam , to ’till and guard ‘ – in praise and adoration to fill the heavens along with Eve , to have spoken against the agent of evil to have kept it at bay …to be speaking words that would have brought forth Goldy children as in the Immaculate Conception ..

    The enemy would keep trying to destroy that order again and again …

    Thank God that the Holy Father, as in above does his Adamic role in firm and gentle enough words – warning against the polite demons of spiritual worldliness and vainglory, the weapons of deception and seduction that the enemy uses ; Holy Father instead reminding us all of our dignity in being made in the image and likneness of God .
    The prayers of the Pope Emeri . – may same too help to bring speedy enough healing by putting out the carnal fires as the hardness of hearts and the spirit of the antichrist amidst us !

  17. It probably does. I don’t personally agree with it, either, but add all the other items on the agenda and you have a clear reflection of exactly how the lobby has been operating for decades, riding on the backs of women and people of color, to promote something that is only vaguely related, at best. People are leaving the Church, as a public institution, because it has become something unholy.

  18. If woman are leaving the Church because they cannot be ordained to the priesthood they are not true believers in the faith. When one leaves the Church they deny themselves access to the body and blood of Christ through the Holy Eucharist. These are self-centered people that need to wake-up.

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