Reformers’ ideas gain momentum in German synodal way

National Catholic Reporter

February 19, 2020

By Donald Snyder

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Germany’s defense minister, agrees with advocates of radical change in the nation’s Roman Catholic Church.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, 57, often known as “AKK” in German media, a member of the governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told journalists on Feb. 3 that she wished there were many more women in church leadership, beginning with their serving as deacons.

“And I am for the abolition of celibacy. It would help to make more people enthusiastic to serve the church,” she said, adding that the decision to live without a family poses too great an obstacle for those wanting to dedicate their lives to the church.

Kramp-Karrenbauer’s fellow CDU member, Heribert Hirte, said in a telephone interview that AKK entered a political minefield when she called for an end to celibacy in the priesthood. He said the church opposes such political intervention into its internal affairs. Still, he praised Kramp-Karrenbauer for her courage in making a public statement.


The original impetus for the dialogue was concern about a massive sexual abuse scandal documented in a 2018 report, which had come under immediate attack from conservatives like the bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, who charged that the study was unscientific and unprofessional.

“It was an aggressive challenge to the accuracy of the sexual abuse study, and an attempt to destroy the Frankfurt meeting,” said Philipp Gessler, a Berlin resident who was formerly a religion editor at Deutschlandfunk, German public radio. Gessler is the author of three books on religion.

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