Today, the German media are filled with reports about the new interview given by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the recently elected General Secretary of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and thus Angela Merkel’s “right hand” and one of the most influential professedly “conservative” leaders in Germany. She now openly calls for more influence of women in the Catholic Church, to include the establishment of the female priesthood.
In the 9 May issue of Christ&Welt – which is the religion section of the German newspaper Die Zeit – Kramp-Karrenbauer now declares: “It is very clear: women have to take positions of leadership in the Church.” She could “very well imagine that there would be a female quota for the Catholic Church.”
In the longer interview, this German politician, who was born in 1962, explains that she was raised in a Catholic family and practiced her faith, but that she soon regretted that she could not be an altar girl. She was “very upset” at the fact that, at the time, there were no altar girls. She adds that she did find a solution for her desire by serving as an altar girl at a home for the elderly run by nuns who were running short of altar boys. Now, as an adult, she admits of not regularly going to Mass and affirms that the faith is for her, rather, something “directed toward the inward.” The mother of three boys describes herself as a “secularized model of a Christian” who does not believe in Holy Scripture “word by word.” As the General Secretary of the CDU, Kramp-Karrenbauer insists: “We do not make – and I do not make – Christian politics.” Instead, she explains, “we make politics based on the Christian image of man.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was the first female German minister for internal affairs, now hopes that the Church “who feels an enormous pressure” due to the lack of priests, might become more open to change with regard to the role of women. “One has to turn this into a positive direction,” she says. “I wish that the ordination of female priests would be coming.” The politician admits, however: “This would be an immense breach. I am fully aware of that.” She also claims that many of the Church’s rules, in any case, have been added by authorities later, after the time of Christ and thus “do not come from Jesus himself.” “The Church would not perish under female priests, as can be seen in the Protestant churches,” she explains.
When asked by the interviewer as to whether she could picture herself as being a female priest, Kramp-Karrenbauer admits that “I could have once imagined well that I would become a female priest myself.” But knowing that “this would have been impossible,” she now concentrates “on a more realistic goal, the female diaconate.” Here, she demands “a real diaconate” for women, and not one without ordination, which she calls “a false compromise.” Nonetheless, Kramp-Karrenbauer – who was the governor of the state of Saarland since 2011 and until she then became the General Secretary of the CDU in February of 2018 – does have problems herself imagining a female cardinal.
The German politician is a member of the Central committee of German Catholics (ZdK) which is known for its progressivist views. The ZdK is mostly funded by the German dioceses, and it declared in 2015 that it is in favor of the blessing of homosexual couples.
In January of 2017, Kramp-Karrenbauer had held a laudatory speech for Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the President of the German bishops’ conference, who was then the recipient of a Media Freedom Award as officially issued by the Weimer Media Group and celebrated at its Ludwig Erhard Meeting in Bavaria. The jury for the award explained its decision to chose Marx by saying that he had led the Catholic Church, “after times of unrest,” back into unity and he had given her a “sympathetic and strong face.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer praised Cardinal Marx for his engagement in the defense of freedom and for his being, as a close collaborator of the pope, a “bridge builder.” She was very happy that Marx received this award; she knew him well as Bishop of Trier and it was thus “a great personal joy” for her to praise him. She thanked Cardinal Marx for “his being a model with regard to liberty.”
Moreover, in 2017, the German politician also visited Pope Francis. According to her own words, she proposed to Pope Francis that the current problems in the West – for example the issue of immigration – could best be solved by a “religiously neutral state.” The pope is said to have answered her with the words that neither the strictly laicistic state without any presence of religion in public, nor the state that prefers one specific confession is a better solution.