Is religion an obstacle to women's rights?

Church is measured by rights for women

The Catholic Church can only regain its credibility if women participate equally in the decision-making processes. The President of the Roman Catholic Central Conference speaks of discrimination.

Davide Pesenti, cath.ch

Ms. Asal-Steger, in the first part of the interview (see below) you explored the power structure between clergy and lay people. Are there any free spaces?

Renata Asal-Steger: In democratic structures, especially in Switzerland, power is always shared. In addition, the exercise of power is limited in time. However, this does not mean that there is no real room for maneuver.

"The building of the church is not possible without consensus."

For example, there are two women and three men in the RKZ Presidium. Together we prepare the dossiers that are to be dealt with in the three annual plenary sessions. As President, I am primarily responsible for ensuring that decisions are made by consensus. If this is not the case, the building of the church is not possible. The motto of the central conference reflects this concern: "Because we can achieve more together."

Women can preside over a service, but they cannot be ordained a deacon.

However, there are still important restrictions in the way of life in the church.

Asal-Steger: I see limits primarily in the pastoral area. Catholic women are still discriminated against in this area. Certain leadership and leadership tasks, but also pastoral acts such as the dispensing of sacraments or admission to a consecration office, are denied to them because of their womanhood.

"Equal dignity also means equal rights."

That's shocking. In relation to the world, the Catholic Church defends the principle that all people have the same dignity. Equal dignity also means equal rights. One cannot be achieved without the other. This fact arises from the requirements of canon law. However, there is a major obstacle to changing these rules, as only men have the right to make decisions about them and to recognize the equal participation of women.

Is that why you advocate a power-sharing between men and women in the Church?

Asal-Steger: The core of the matter is that all people have the same dignity and the same rights. It cannot be that a church defends human rights and at the same time denies women within the church the same rights as men.

The women want to help build the church, take on responsibility and give it a face that is increasingly female.

"The most important task of the church is the renewal of the institution."

Several women's networks are committed to ensuring that these demands are not ignored. In your opinion, what are the most important projects within the Church?

Asal-Steger: The most important task of the Catholic Church is undoubtedly the renewal of the institution. This is intended to restore their credibility, which was severely damaged in Switzerland and worldwide by the sexual abuse scandal and its concealment.

However, the question of credibility is also closely linked to the question of the involvement of lay people and especially women. Personally, I am convinced that the Catholic Church will only regain its credibility if women participate equally in the decision-making processes within the Church. (cath.ch/translation: Georges Scherrer)


© Catholic Media Center, June 25th, 2020
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