Vatican Radio: German Bishop for Female Deacons

Bishop Gebhard Fürst of the German diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, successor to Walter Kasper in that diocese, has spoken out in favor of female deacons, Vatican Radio reports.

Bishop Fuerst On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Katholischen Deutschen Frauenbund (“German Catholic Women’s Association”), the bishop called the possible ordination of female deacons as a “sign of the times.” In the bishop’s view, ordination of older, proven married men to the priesthood is “of lower concern.”

 

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6 comments

  1. I apologize for the off-topic question, but I’m wondering about the bishop’s collar in the picture. It looks like the street collar that the Lasallian Brothers (Christian Brothers) wear. Does anyone know if this type of collar is common for German bishops?

    1. @Ron Almeida:
      This type of collar is common for German and Austrian bishops and priests, in my experience. But I’ve also seen the collar type common in the US, and also the plastic tab that looks like that.
      awr

    2. @Ron Almeida:
      Have a look at this current photograph of the German bishops’ conference: http://www.dbk.de/ueber-uns/ The picture is a bit tiny, but you can see how common this type of collar is. Here are the Austrians: http://www.bischofskonferenz.at/ueberuns/bischoefe, and here the Swiss: http://www.bischoefe.ch/wir/bischoefe/bischoefe-sbk

      As you can see, there is some difference between North and South. I grew up in the Archdiocese of Paderborn, quite in the North, and in my experience this collar was the regular one for priests (and other pastors of different denominations).

      At some occasions, even Orthodox clergy wears this collar, here for example the late Greek Orthodox bishop of Austria: http://www.ksoe.at/freiersonntag/images/staikos_michael_v_austria.jpg

  2. The two sentences of that 2nd paragraph of the post form an interesting juxtaposition of views. According to numbers I found via Google, Bishop Furst’s diocese has approximately 1/3 fewer diocesan priests per parish, and about 1/5 fewer diocesan priests per Catholic, than the overall average throughout Germany (Germany’s ratio of priests to Catholics is about the same as in the US). Inasmuch as the vocation crisis seems more pronounced in his diocese than in the country as a whole, it’s somewhat surprising that he doesn’t wish to pursue older, proven married men for the priesthood. Perhaps he has a different strategy to grow the number of priests; or perhaps he objects to older, married men in particular pursuing the priesthood; or perhaps he believes he has a sufficient number of priests. At any rate, female (or male) deacons wouldn’t be a panacea for a shortage of priests. As the bishop notes, having female deacons would be a sign in its own right, even if such a development wouldn’t be expected to make up for a lack of priests.

  3. The proposal by the German synod of Wuerzburg (1971-1975) to introduce female diaconate has never been officially answered by the pope. Of course this was generally regarded as a rejection (especially under John Paul II and the times of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 1994), but now the German bishops can connect to that document. You can find the original German text here: http://www.dbk.de/fileadmin/redaktion/Synoden/gemeinsame_Synode/band1/synode.pdf (p. 634).

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