Abbot Primate Notker Wolf, OSB, was recently at St. John’s Abbey and University and Liturgical Press in Collegeville. Abbot Primate Notker, originally from Germany, is the worldwide head of the Benedictine order and resides at Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. He is the author of the just-released Liturgical Press book The Art of Leadership. On Thursday, April 3, he delivered an address in Collegeville, “What are the Characteristics of Effective Leaders?” (Full video below.)
Abbot Notker is an accomplished musician. At Midday Prayer in the School of Theology•Seminary, Abbot Notker played selections on his classical flute. He is also well-known as an electric guitarist and occasionally plays with the German rock group Feedback.
Pray Tell readers will appreciate the entire talk given by the Benedictine leader. Two excerpts are particularly interesting – the Abbot Primate’s remarks on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican body which oversees Catholic doctrine, and his remarks on women in ordained ministry.
At 1:09:45 in the video, the abbot says this about the CDF:
So sincerity, transparency, these are values in our times we need to respect also in our monasteries. And very often we were told, No we don’t. You can (?) tell it to this man. It depend upon the way how you are telling it. But everyone has to get the truth. I wonder when this will be always (?) the case now under Pope Francis. When you are accused at the CDF you will never know up until now who is accusing you, in order to respond in the right way. No, you have to defend yourself as if it would be just an objective accusation. If I would know the man or the woman I could say, “Sorry, my dear Cardinal Müller, this is a revenge. Somebody tries really to kill me. It’s not true, I didn’t say it in that way.” But you have to defend, to fight again like in the dark – and this is not possible. This is not according to the gospel.
At 24:25 in the video, the Abbot Notker says this about women’s ordination:
And the most problematic thing was clericalism. And he [Francis] is talking very much against clericalism. And I think only when we have resolved that problem, we can start to speak about women’s ordination. Because it would be horrible if we start clericalism even among women. And I think they are doing so much good to the church. They are just a double number of the priests. And now they want also clericalism. I don’t say that, I just… But it seems sometimes so.
I think first we have to find the new figure of a priest as a pastor. And then we can say, what’s the role of a woman in such a context? And this looks maybe different than we are expecting.