A grassroots Catholic women’s movement – using the motto of the Virgin Mary who should be given her voice – launched a week of disobedient non-service on May 11 – 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 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 was outdoors in the northwestern city of Münster on May 12.
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.
On May 10, 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.
KDFB president Maria Flachsbarth said abuse cases and cover-ups by priests had slid the church into deep crisis and credibility loss. Striking women wanted to show how much the church and its evangelical “gospel” meant to them, said Flachsbarth who is also a federal parliamentarian and member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat (CDU) party.
“Without the women nothing happens,” said Thomas Sternberg, president of the Central Council of German Catholics (ZdK) at its lay convention in Mainz on May 10.