Cardinal Lehman: "I can envision Women at the Altar"

Don’t be too shocked by the title, it’s the title of the original article.

In an interview with the dpa (“German Press Agency”, secular), Cardinal Lehmann, Bishop of Mainz, has offered his comments and suggestions for Church reform.

Again, it’s a German story, but I have decided to translate the interview into English so you can see what it’s all about.

Q: Mr Cardinal [colloquial German for “Your Eminence”, which they didn’t say], after the first months of Pope Francis’ Pontificate, what is your conclusion?

A: Francis has really started off strongly. It is important to me, however, to adequately highlight the time of Benedict XVI, even in spite of some mishaps [German “Pannen”]. Concerning spiritual renewal, theological foresight and the position of the Church in today’s world, this Pope has done much that will last for the Church in the future. We are now in a phase in which renewal must follow from Francis’ charismatic impulses. A notable sign of this is seen in the choice of Pietro Parolin as new Secretary of State. According to many people’s judgement, it’s the best choice he could make.

Q: Which reforms do you wish for?

A: It is very important to me that where there is law, it must be abided by. It is not uncommon to see the argumentation in the Vatican that the Pope could grant an exception for this or that. I’d wish that freedom be left in the appointment of Bishops, but also in privileges the Bishops’ Conferences have — like the shaping [German “Gestaltung”] of the Liturgy — and nothing be cut down in the manner of old centralism. I could see Pope Francis enabling this.

Q: The Pope faces very high expectations. Can he live up to them?

A: A great many people have a totally un-Catholic image of the Pope. They think that he will change everything radically, when he arrives, such as in Ecumenism, everything becomes different in social conduct. The Pope must bring the people along, he needs us. There are many tasks. For example, we need the appointment of two Bishops in Germany, Passau and Erfurt. He has to bear with people who may cause trouble for a while. Perhaps such people are more important for the Church than some who keep things quiet.

Q: In your view, when will there be women priests?

A: I don’t have gynophobia, I can even envision women at the altar. I see many female pastors in protestant circles and other churches who do an impressive job. But as a Catholic theologian I don’t see how the Church could change this. There are documents by John Paul II and Benedict XVI that show a very high degree of binding authority, and which say that women cannot be ordained priests. I also think that a contrary decision would brink the Church on the brink of schism.

Q: Which positions should be open to women for the moment then?

A: I refuse to have the question over women’s ordination made a standard of a woman’s standing in the Church. This is totally false. I would have liked to have seen the question of ordination [the German word “Weihe” is ambiguous and can also mean blessing, dedication] for women to be permanent deacons settled more clearly within the last 20-30 years. It is too slow for my liking, but on the other hand it has, of course, to be a solid decision. But I am in favour of opening up all other important positions to women, there’s enough reason to do so. Our Bishops’ Conference has considered this question in Spring 2013, including concrete proposals.

Q: In your view, when will there be women priests?

Why did they ask such a question?

It wasn’t a Catholic newspaper. The interview was conducted by the dpa, a secular German news agency. It was only published on the news site of the Bishops’ Conference.

I corrected my post when I clicked on the article. Even a secular newspaper shouldn’t of asked such a question. I see no reason to think the issue of women becoming priests is anything but a closed issue.

Thanks for translating this! I can imagine the secular English-speaking media taking that one quote, used as the title of the article (of course), completely out of context. Seeing the translation, it is obvious that he only means that he can imagine such a thing, not that he thinks it will actually happen. It is reassuring. :slight_smile:


Just to stir up trouble, God Bless, Memaw

I swear I feel like I am one of a few women who are not egregiously offended that I cannot be a priest. Is it really hard to imitate Mary and bring people to Jesus and is that such an inferior job? NO WAY! I feel it is an honor to be given such a job. It seems this whole women priest issue is about power and not about love, does God ask people do big things and others to do small things, yes! The bigger picture is addressing what God is asking you to do and doing out of love.

Because to many non-Catholics, it’s a legitimate question.

I want to move to Mainz, but I will wait until he is gone. :mad:

That’s exactly it. I’ve heard many arguments for women’s ordination. Not one has truly been service-oriented. The arguments they present are all based on a desire for power, though they like to talk endlessly about service to others (except God). I find their arguments to focus exclusively on the things of this world, and in no way demonstrate a mindfulness of eternal things. The Church cannot ordain women. Unfortunately for half a century now, people have grown up being told they can do anything with enough determination, so that truth is lost on them.

Wow. So…no women anywhere really want to serve God in a fashion other than becoming a nun? That’s painting with a pretty broad brush. I infer that, even if the Church did allow the ordination of women, you believe women would only do it for “power” and that women priests would not be “service-oriented”. Are you saying that women, in general, do not “focus exclusively on the things of this world and in no way demonstrate a mindfulness of eternal things”? 'cause there’s probably a lot of women in Heaven that would disagree with you.

You’re reading a lot into that comment there. They were merely stating their experience, namely that all the arguments they had heard were about power.

I take issue with the wording “if the Church did allow”, which implies the Church forbids women’s ordination, which is not the case. She doesn’t have the authority to ordain women.

I don’t think that I’m reading too much into these comments. They are unproven generalizations. Show me studies done on a random sampling of Catholic women that proves those statements. As far as you taking issue with the word “allow”: whether “allowance” or “authority”, the bottom line is that women can’t be ordained. I reiterate my “wow”.

Again, I think you are misinterpreting the comment. They are reporting what happened to them, which is not the same as an “unproven generalisation”. Thus “studies” are totally irrelevant to this comment.

As for authority, yes that is the bottom line. Then the question becomes: “What does ‘can’t’ mean?”. The Church has stated that this does not diminish a woman’s value or standing in the Church. This is due to the fact that the Church does not have the authority to do this, not because there’s something “wrong” with women.

Well, I’m here with you. :smiley: I think, I hope, we are the silent majority.

Yes, it’s always struck me that way.

I thought this was a very good article by Elizabeth Scalia written about a woman who said, “I am Long Island’s first female priest!”

A “Priesthood” Disingenuous, Thoughtless and Vain

I believe we are. :slight_smile: Maybe we need to be less silent.

It’s not a matter of the Church allowing this or disallowing this, can’t you understand JPII’s words? “the Church has no authority to ordain women.” The Church cannot change this; it is not Her’s to change.

You are indeed a wise woman. Where would the church be without holy women? Our Blessed Mother shows us the power of women in the Heart of Jesus. If they ever allowed women priests which I know is outside the power of the Church, I would have rejected the first two thousand applicants from the ranks of those orders of nuns that show today such disloyalty in their abuse of their position in the church.
You recognise the role of women and their unique charisms . May you be blessed for your wisdom.

AMEN, AMEN AND AMEN !!! God Bless Memaw

More accurately to stir up division. This is a spiritual battle, and satan is using the technique of divide and conquer to gain souls.

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