Ordination of women (Christianity)

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Ordination of women means the admission of women to all spiritual offices in a church or other religious community of Christianity . According to early Christian doctrine and tradition, receiving the sacrament of ordination is reserved exclusively for men. In most Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic churches and other Christian communities, the admission of female candidates to spiritual offices was introduced in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. The ordination of women is a controversial topic in the ecumenical movement and sometimes also within individual churches or church communities. In some churches women are only allowed to hold certain offices.

Historical development

Pre-Christian tradition

In ancient Judaism , the priestly service in the temple was limited to Aaron's male descendants , the Aaronites from the tribe of Levi , and, in contrast to pagan religions, had no female priesthood. In traditional Judaism, women are also regarded as ritually impure during certain times in connection with menstruation and childbirth .

Early Christianity

In connection with the adoption of the purely male sacrificial priesthood from Judaism, the idea came up in early Christianity that women would not celebrate the Eucharist in persona Christi (“in the person of Christ”), the “bridegroom” in relation to the congregation (the “ bride of Christ ”), which was conceived as female can. The twelve apostles chosen by Jesus Christ , who traditionally formed the core of the Christian episcopate and priesthood ( apostolic succession ), were all men.

Historically, the ordination of women can only be proven in the movement of the Montanists , who were later judged to be heretics . The ordination of women was also used to a large extent in the contemporary controversy for the condemnation of the Montanists. Other historical evidence is at least unclear.

With regard to the question of the primitive and early Christian understanding of church office and priesthood, a scientific and sometimes ideological dispute is underway as to whether these institutes already existed in early Christianity in the sense that the pre-Reformation churches ascribed to them, or whether it is about Developments in post-apostolic times. Connected with this is the question of whether there was conceptually the ordination of women in early Christianity.

The spiritual office of deaconess was open to women as early as New Testament times. The letter to the Romans contains a recommendation for the deaconess Phoebe from the community of Kenchreä ( Rom 16 : 1-2  EU ). However, it is disputed whether the mere designation of a person as diákonos ("servant" or "servant") already means that he holds the ecclesiastical ordination of the diaconate . Biblical sources ( e.g. Acts 6: 1-7  EU ) and other early Christian testimonies such as the Apostolic Constitutions suggest that the diaconate for both men and women in early Christianity was not a preliminary stage to the priesthood , but a separate service.

Some deaconesses, some of whom were very influential, are known from the following centuries. In a letter to Emperor Trajan (approx. 110 AD ), Pliny the Younger mentions two deaconesses ( ministrae ) who led early Christian rituals. In ancient western Rome, women were still active in the liturgical service of the church at the beginning of the third century, with widows being excluded from the diaconate and only admitted to the prayer service.

middle Ages

The mother of Pope Paschal I (9th century) is referred to as "Episcopa Theodora" on a mosaic picture in the Zeno Chapel of the Santa Prassede Church . Episcopa can be translated as "bishop". It remains unclear whether this designation is to be understood as the official designation of an ordained bishop or an honorary designation for the mother or widow of a bishop. There is no evidence that Theodora is an ordained priestess.

In the western church there were deacons until the 8th century, in the eastern church until the 12th century. The reason for the dissolution of the office is assumed that the diaconate developed increasingly as a preliminary stage to the priesthood and was less viewed as an independent service.

In the Middle Ages only a few sects, such as brothers and sisters of the free spirit, showed tendencies towards the ordination of women. Even in the heretical movements of that time there was broad consensus on the impossibility of the ordination of women.

Reformation and modern times

The Reformation brought about a fundamental change in the understanding of the priesthood and ordination. Nevertheless, the previous practice of ordaining only men was initially retained. In general, the ordination of women was not up for debate due to the prevailing conception of the difference between men and women and the resulting different tasks of the sexes in Christian societies up to the 20th century.

An exception was the early practice of the Moravian Brethren , in which Zinzendorf ordained both presbyters and deacons. After his death, the ordination of women was only continued for deacons until about 1790 and then discontinued until the 20th century.

In the 19th century, the Salvation Army also admitted women to all offices.


The attitude towards women's ordination has changed in some churches after the women's movement in the early 20th century.

Even before the Second World War, women's ordination was introduced in individual religious communities: in the Church of the Nazarene , women's ordination has existed since it was founded in 1908. In October 1918, the first women in Switzerland were ordained as pastors in the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich . The ordination of women has existed in the Christian community since it was founded in 1922. Bishop Jan Michael Kowalski introduced ordination of women to the Mariavites in 1929. This led to the split in the Maravite movement in 1935, the greater part of which, the Old Catholic Church of the Mariavites (Płock), reversed the introduction of the ordination of women, while the Catholic Church of the Mariavites (Felicjanów) retained it.

In the course of the emancipation of women , efforts to ordain women began in other Reformation churches in the 1960s. Since then, the respective religious communities have had to deal with this question on a theological level in order to be able to justify the pros and cons. While the divine vocation in the form of the sacrament of ordination is decisive for the pre-Reformation churches , Reformation churches regard the vocation to the ordained ministry as a matter of the respective church, which determines its regulations solely from God's word in the respective time. However, there are considerable differences in the question of the extent to which the Word of God is to be regarded as binding without adapting to the respective circumstances of the time and to what extent a reinterpretation of biblical passages regarded as outdated against the background of a changing society appears possible or even necessary.

Theological points of view

The question of the validity of a woman's ordination touches on both areas of ecclesiology and theology of the sacraments , the question of admissibility - assuming fundamental validity - and questions of the practical understanding of the church ( canon law , missions , pastoral theology ).

In the Reformation tradition ( sola scriptura ), religious communities with ordination of women justify their validity and permissibility theologically from the Bible and on the one hand refer to the biblical testimonies of the ancient church given in their opinion, and on the other hand to the principle of the general priesthood of all Christians. Some Old Catholic churches cite as an important reason for the ordination of women the fact that in Jesus Christ man is redeemed as man and woman. This message of salvation could seem untrustworthy in today's cultural context if the priesthood continues to be reserved for men only.

With reference to church tradition , the Roman Catholic Church - which incidentally points out that the priest acts in persona Christi at Holy Mass and must therefore be male and that women therefore cannot keep the homily of Holy Mass either - reject the Orthodox Church and the independent Evangelical Lutheran Church as well as most Evangelical congregations abolish the ordination of women. The lack of a commission from Jesus Christ is given as the main reason for the rejection. The Catholic Church therefore sees itself as empowered neither from the practice of Jesus nor from church tradition to admit women to the priesthood. She also points out that the reason Jesus did not apostle any of the women who followed and served him has not been revealed to her .

Proponents of the ordination of women, on the other hand, cite the letter to the Romans: Here, among the apostle's greetings, you can find Phoebe ( Rom. 16.1  EU ), who is at least διακονος (diákonos ). In Romans there is also the mention of a Junia , "who is famous [...] among the apostles" ( Rom 16,7  LUT ). The traditional interpretation of this passage saw the accusative “Junian” referring to a male name “Junias” (which was otherwise not documented in antiquity), which, however, should stand as a short form for the (quite common) male name “Junianus” (similar to that of Paul is also said to have used “Silas” as a short form of “Silvanus”). Even Martin Luther proceeds from a man's name at this point. However, this traditional interpretation is only supported by a part of the exegetes today. It is further argued that "Junia, who is famous among the apostles", therefore by no means had to have held the apostolic office, but, in the literal sense, could simply have been particularly well known to the apostles or have been particularly valued by them. The standard translation, in turn, gives Rom 16.7  EU as “[…] Junias […] respected apostles”. In the new version of the standard translation from 2017 it says "Junia" at this point due to new scientific findings.


In churches of the Wesleyan tradition, the ordination of women was anchored relatively early. Women have been ordained in the Salvation Army since the 19th century; Women have been ordained in the Church of the Nazarene since the Church was founded in 1908.

Most churches of the Reformation tradition such as the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) have introduced the ordination of women. Because the ordination of the clergy is not understood as a sacrament , the theological conditions were given, only the ecclesiastical, man-made statutes had to be changed. In a changed social environment, the admission of women to the pastor's office became possible.

In 1927, the Evangelical- Union Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union introduced the ordination of women with limited tasks and rights, the so-called consecration for female deacons . German Christians, with their image of families and women and their superiority in most of the old Prussian decision-making and representative bodies from 1933 onwards, prevented further development. But even in the parallel organization of the Old Prussian Confessing Church (BK), the matter of women's ordination made only difficult progress.

At the Old Prussian Eleventh National Confession Synod , which was held on 17/18 March due to obstruction of the German-Christian dominated official church leadership October 1942 could only take place outside the regional church area in Hamburg, the synodals rejected by a majority the proposal to ordain women equal to men. But the advocates of the ordination of women persisted. On January 12, 1943, Kurt Scharf , President of the Brandenburg Provincial Synod and Pastor in Sachsenhausen , ordained Ilse Härter and Hannelotte Reiffen in his church in Sachsenhausen, in consultation with some advocates of women's ordination , with both women dressed in gowns like their male counterparts , as the first women in Germany to become pastors, like men with the same education.

At the beginning of October 1943, shortly before the Old Prussian Twelfth National Confessing Synod , the Old Prussian State Brotherhood Council took this development into account between the meetings of the Synod's governing body and decided to allow women to ordination for the Old Prussian BK. On October 16, 1943, Annemarie Grosch, Sieghild Jungklaus, Margarethe Saar, Lore Schlunk, Ruth Wendland and Gisela von Witzleben received their ordinations as pastors in a church of the general parish of Berlin-Lichterfelde , on the very day on which the Old Prussian state confessions in Breslau were approved met for their three-day deliberations. If the ordination provided the candidates with the required proof of qualification, this was not the same as a pastor's position. Many ordained pastors initially worked for a long time as deacons, vicars or parish administrators, because it took a long time for the first parishes to decide to fill a pastor's position with a woman.

In 1958, Elisabeth Haseloff in Lübeck for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lübeck was the first pastor of an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany “in accordance with the law” . However, until 1974, female pastors in the EKD were celibate. A pastor resigned from office through marriage because it was believed that women cannot be a good wife to a husband and a good pastor to the parish at the same time. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria introduced the ordination of women in 1975. In 1976, Marianne Pflüger (1921–2020) was one of the first three women to be ordained as pastors in Bavaria, and in 1977 she was the first woman to take over a pastor's office in Bavaria. The last member church of the EKD to introduce women's ordination was the Evangelical Lutheran Regional Church of Schaumburg-Lippe (1991).

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baden , women's ordination has been possible since 1994 and was carried out for the first time in 2011; the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church , which is in teaching and communion fellowship with her , as well as other Evangelical churches such as the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod , reject the ordination of women as an unbiblical innovation.

Women could study at the Evangelical Theological Faculty of the University of Vienna from 1928. In 1937, Dora Winkler-Hermann was the first woman to receive a doctorate in theology. In 1945 she was the first woman to be ordained to the ministerial office in the Diocese of Tyrol with an exception. In 1965, the General Synod of the Protestant Churches in Austria decided to officially ordain women, albeit with many restrictions in terms of professional competencies and marital status. If they got married, they were automatically dismissed from their employment. Only in 1980 was this passage deleted and legal equality achieved.

In some evangelical free churches , the spiritual leadership and preaching of women in the main worship service based on biblical passages such as 1 Tim 2,12  NGÜ is rejected, in Methodist or Pentecostal congregations it is more likely to be allowed. The situation differs from place to place, however, since the respective church association leaves the decision to the individual parishes.

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia

The situation in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia is unique in church history . Archbishop Janis Matulis ordained some women in 1975 with only a consistorial resolution instead of a synodal resolution, which sparked protests. His successor, Eric Mesters, an opponent of the ordination of women, was asked by the clergy not to ordain women until the matter had been discussed theologically, which resulted in an initial three-year moratorium. Under Archbishop Karlis Gailitis, a proponent of the ordination of women, a synodal resolution was passed in 1989 that half-heartedly permitted the ordination of women again.

The 1992 Synod decided that this question had not been discussed theologically thoroughly enough and set up a committee for this purpose. After Gailitis' death, two candidates stood for election, the liberal advocate of women's ordination Elmars Rozitis, who later became archbishop of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church abroad, and Jānis Vanags , an opponent of women's ordination, both of whom clarified their theological positions before the election, with Vanags openly warned of problems with the Lutheran World Federation in the event of his election. Vanags was elected and re-elected by a large majority three years later. The five ordained pastors can continue to officiate; however, since the election of Vanags there was again a moratorium on new ordinations. At the synod on June 3rd and 4th, 2016, a motion was accepted that in future restricts admission to ordination to male candidates.


For the member churches of the Anglican Communion, only the principles of the Lambeth Quadrilateral are binding. The question of the ordination of women is not dealt with in it, so there is no uniform regulation that is binding for all member churches. The individual churches therefore have different attitudes, some fundamentally reject the ordination of women, some allow ordination to the deacon, others also to the priesthood or the office of bishop.

Some member churches of the Anglican Communion began ordaining women to the priesthood in the 1970s. This happened in the Anglican Church of Canada , in the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) since 1976, in the Anglican Church in New Zealand since 1977.

The first Anglican female bishop was Barbara Clementine Harris , who was ordained suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 1989 . The first diocesan bishop was Penny Jamieson in the Diocese of Dunedin in New Zealand in 1990 . In June 2006 Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected primate of ECUSA (now TEC) as the first woman .

In the Church of England , women have been ordained priests since 1994, and episcopal ordination since 2014. In 2015, Libby Lane was ordained as the first suffragan bishop and Rachel Treweek as the first diocesan bishop. Pat Storey was ordained as the first female bishop of the Church of Ireland in September 2013 . The first female bishop in the Church in Wales , Joanna Penberthy , was ordained for office on November 30, 2016. In March 2018, Anne Dyer was ordained as the first female bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church .

Old Catholicism

In the Old Catholic Church in Germany a discussion began in the 1970s, among other things through the initiative of the Association of Old Catholic Women, about the admission of women to the diaconate. In 1976, the majority of the bishops gathered in the International Bishops' Conference (IBK) of the Union of Old Catholic Churches in Utrecht spoke out against the admission of women to the triple ordained office. Since the resolution was not passed unanimously ( Gerhardus Anselmus van Kleef , Bishop of Haarlem, who was the only one of the bishops present to support the ordination of women, left the room before the vote), it had no binding effect on the member churches. In the following years there was a theological paradigm change in the Western European Old Catholic Churches , so that the IBK released its member churches from 1982 to admit women to the diaconate. The synods of the German and Swiss churches had already spoken out in favor of it in 1981. In 1987 the first four women were ordained deacons in Switzerland, in 1988 the first woman in Germany and in 1991 a woman in Austria was ordained deacon.

In 1989 the German diocese synod also spoke out in favor of including women in the priestly office. With regard to the sister churches , the immediate execution was postponed and the then Bishop Sigisbert Kraft was commissioned to work towards an agreement with the other churches of the Union of Utrecht. Similarly, the Swiss Synod repeatedly expressed its wish to introduce women's ordination, but emphasized, not least at the insistence of its then Bishop Hans Gerny , that the issue of women's ordination concerns the unity of the church and therefore “only after discussions with the churches that with us share the old church faith, can be responsible. "In 1991 the IBK wanted at a special session in Wislikofen in the interest of a jointly responsible fundamental decision" an intensified and coordinated continuation of the study of the question and the common discussion about it under all theological and pastoral aspects, namely in All local churches. ”This is how the topic came on the agenda in those Old Catholic churches which, citing the IBC declaration of 1976, rejected the ordination of women as an already settled topic. Study seminars were held in the Old Catholic Churches of Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Switzerland and the USA.

In 1994 the 51st diocesan synod in Germany resolved on its own with 124 votes in favor, 10 against and 2 abstentions that men and women have the same rights in the church and that “women in the area of ​​the Catholic diocese of old Catholics in Germany from now on have the same access to the ordained ministry as men ”. On Whit Monday 1996, Angela Berlis and Regina Pickel-Bossau were the first women to be ordained priests in the Christ Church in Constance by Bishop Joachim Vobbe . Since the joint study process decided by the IBK in 1991 was not yet completed, this led to the temporary suspension of the German bishop's right to vote in the IBK.

In 1997, another special meeting of the IBK on the subject took place, which ended in a stalemate: A jointly responsible fundamental decision for or against the ordination of women, or even a joint declaration to leave this to the competence of the local churches, proved to be impossible. At least it was stated that the negative attitude of the IBK from 1976 should not be taken as a binding decision and that one was aware that several Old Catholic local churches would no longer be prepared to wait with the introduction of the ordination of women.

In fact, this result of the special session resulted in a de facto release of the ordination of women in the competence of the local churches: In 1997 the Synod of the Old Catholic Church of Austria decided to ordain women; the first priestess was ordained that same year. In 1998 the Synod of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands followed and in 1999 the National Synod of the Christian Catholic Church in Switzerland . In September 1999 the first woman in the Dutch Church was ordained a priest. In 2000, Denise Wyss was the first woman to be ordained priest in the Christian Catholic Church .

Polish National Catholic Church

This process of opening up the ordained ministry to women exacerbated the already existing tensions in the IBC, as the bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church , who, on the basis of theological considerations, but also because of their intercommunion agreement with the Roman Catholic Church, strictly reject the ordination of women saw compelled to regard sacramental communion with those bishops who ordain women as dormant. Since the IBK had decided in 1997 to re-discuss and resolve the situation of the lack of a “full community of the sacred” within six years, but no agreement was reached by 2003, at the end of 2003 there was also an institutional break within the Union of Utrecht. As a result, the PNCC bishops no longer belong to the IBK and thus their churches no longer belong to the Union of Utrecht. The PNCC In 2008, as a binding commitment basis of their church - next to the Utrecht Declaration which - Declaration Scranton accepted. This rejects the practice of women's ordination.

Pre-Reformation churches

According to the teaching and tradition of the ancient Church , the sacrament of Orders can only be validly received by a man. This is represented by all pre-Reformation churches , the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox and Ancient Near Eastern churches, as well as by some Anglican and Ancient Catholic churches.

When he instituted the sacrament, Jesus only called men to be his apostles ( Mk 3,13–19  EU , Lk 6,12–16  EU ). The church sees itself bound by this divine determination and therefore has no authority to bestow this sacrament on a woman; This is what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated in 1976 in Inter insigniores . The apostles also called exclusively men to be their successors ( 1 Tim 3,1-13  EU , Tit 1,5-9  EU ). This practice is already documented from the early church and is therefore also seen as part of the church tradition.

Another reason is that a priest does not act in person when exercising the powers obtained through ordination, but in persona Christi ("in the place of Christ"), which is why a natural similarity ( naturalis similitudo ) is necessary or at least required was to make the embodiment of the man Jesus recognizable.

Roman Catholic Church

In the Roman Catholic Church, every ordained office is limited to men under canon law .

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith described in the declaration Inter insigniores on the question of the admission of women to the priesthood of October 15, 1976: “The Catholic Church has never been of the opinion that women can be ordained priests or bishops validly […]”. Pope John Paul II stated in his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis of May 22, 1994 concerning the ordination of priests:

“So that any doubt about the important matter concerning the divine constitution of the Church itself is removed, I declare by virtue of my office to strengthen the brothers ( Lk 22:32  EU ) that the Church has no authority to ordain women to priests to donate, and that all the faithful of the Church finally have to adhere to this decision. "

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that this was a "doctrine to be held finally".

The Salzburg New Testament scholar Marlis Gielen , on the other hand, refers to Gal 3 : 27–28  EU . The “old tradition” presented there records what baptism does to the people who receive it: They put on Christ - like a garment. [...] The baptized have become Christ himself; in baptism they have been given his identity, the identity of the Son of God, without distinction. [...] As members of the community of those who have inseparably linked their salvation to Christ, [...] they no longer differ from one another through baptism, they are rather ONE, each and every (!) Baptized is the Son of God in Christ Jesus . […] If […] baptism fundamentally makes all baptized persons the same by making them the same as Christ on the theological level, and if everything that separates people in this world becomes irrelevant in the community of believers in Christ (church), then can and a new, ontologically defined class difference between lay people and clergy may not be established in precisely this community through consecration. "

Lay movements

In the memorandum Church 2011: A Necessary Awakening , 240 Catholic theology professors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland called for a profound church reform in February / March 2011 and spoke out in favor of women as clergymen, among other things. The online petition Petition pro Ecclesia , which collected over 15,000 signatures from Catholics during the same period , took a stand against the demands of the memorandum . A similar petition was formulated by theology students under the title Memorandum "plus" freedom .

In addition to colleagues such as Eugen Drewermann and Uta Ranke-Heinemann , the theologian Hans Küng also calls for the Catholic priesthood to be opened up to women.

In addition to the organization We are Church in Germany, a Roman Catholic lay movement has been founded in Austria under the leadership of ÖVP politicians such as Andreas Khol , Erhard Busek and Herbert Kohlmaier , which demands the admission of women to the diaconate.

In December 2017, the Central Committee of German Catholics adopted seven “Osnabrück Theses” on the question of “Women in Church Offices”. It was u. a. stated: "It is not the access of women to church services and offices that requires justification, but their exclusion". In 2019, the demand for women to have access to all church offices was reaffirmed.

In its “church strike” in May 2019, the Maria 2.0 initiative called for women to be ordained priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Women's Community of Germany (kfd) made the same demand in a position paper published in June 2019. In the 1999 program guidelines adopted by the kfd, the demand for women to be admitted to all services and offices in the Church had already been made, but had to remove this due to conflicts with the German Bishops' Conference. In September 2019 the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) endorsed the introduction of women's ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic German Women's Association (KDFB) also calls for women to be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church.

Church discourse

In 1975 the Würzburg Synod , in which all German bishops were also involved, suggested that the Pope examine the question of the diaconate of women in accordance with current theological knowledge and, given the pastoral situation, possibly admit women to diaconate ordination. However, the Synod deliberately excluded the question of the ordination of women.

At the study day of the spring plenary assembly of the German Bishops' Conference in February 2013, Walter Cardinal Kasper made a lecture suggesting a non-sacramental office for women, comparable to the sacramentals of the consecration of a virgin or the benediction of an abbess . Archbishop Robert Zollitsch also spoke out in favor of a specific service for women in April 2013. Regensburg Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer and Munich Archbishop Reinhard Cardinal Marx turned against the ordination of women to the diaconate .

In contrast, the Roman Catholic theologian Marie-Theres Wacker points out that the historical finding is by no means as clear as it is often stated as an argument and "even sees some good arguments in the Bible for the ordination of women."

On May 12, 2016, at an audience for women religious , Pope Francis announced the establishment of a commission through which the diaconate of women in the early church would be scientifically examined again. On August 1, 2016, the Holy See announced the establishment of the commission headed by Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer SJ.

In October 2019, the Bishop of Essen , Franz-Josef Overbeck , said that the vast majority of people no longer understood the reason for the exclusion of women from the ordination office with the will of Jesus and did not believe it either. He himself is "more than thoughtful".

At the Amazon Synod in October 2019, the diaconate of women was discussed in many ways. In their final declaration on October 27, 2019, the participants in the synod did not make a clear recommendation for the admission of women to the diaconate; However, we are waiting with great interest for the results of the study commission appointed by the Pope on the subject of the diaconate of women and ask that the experiences and reflections of the synodals can be brought into this commission. In his post-synodal letter Querida Amazonia of February 12, 2020, Pope Francis expressed a tendency to reject this. The understanding of the church should not be reduced to functional structures. This “would lead us to believe that women would only be granted church status and participation if they were admitted to holy orders. But such a view would in reality be a limitation of perspectives: it would lead us to a clericalization of women and diminish the great value of what they have already given, as well as subtly impoverish their indispensable contribution. "

Schismatic communities

Rómolo Antonio Braschi , Vagant Bishop of the Catholic Apostolic Charismatic Church of Jesus the King , which he founded , received media attention when on June 29, 2002 (commemoration day of the Apostles Peter and Paul ) he performed the rite of seven Roman Catholic women on a ship on the Danube Ordained a priest. The Roman Catholic Church regards the consecration because of invalid material, contradiction to the teaching of the church as not donated as inadmissible and not valid. The women were exhorted by the Holy See to recognize the nullity of their ordination so that they “may come to insight and find the way back to unity in faith and communion with the Church, which they have offended by their actions”. Since they did not comply, the excommunication occurred as a flexural penalty.

The Old Catholic Church in Germany has also spoken out against this undertaking of so-called “absolute” (that is, one that is detached from an ecclesiastical office). Meanwhile, some of the of have Vagantenbischöfen consecrated women in turn received by vagrants bishops consecrated bishop and "ordain" turn primarily in North America and Western Europe.

Eastern Churches

According to the teaching of the Eastern Orthodox and Ancient Near Eastern Churches , the sacramental ordination is also limited to men.

In the tradition of early Christian and medieval practice, orthodox theologians suggested the reintroduction of the women's diaconate. The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church voted on October 8, 2004 to allow the bishops to appoint monastic deaconesses to exercise a supporting role in the monastery liturgy. The office of deaconess, however, has no sacramental character, it is an appointment ( χειροθεσία chirothesia ), not an ordination ( χειροτονία chirotonia ).

Spreading the ordination of women

Worldwide, those churches that do not recognize women's ordination are in the clear majority (approx. 85%) according to membership numbers. In Germany, according to the number of members, it is around half of the churches that advocate women's ordination. Looking at the continents, it can be stated that in the churches with different variants (see below) the ordination of women is mainly to be found in the western world, i.e. Europe, Anglo-America and Australia-Oceania, but much less often in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Churches with ordination of women in principle

Different variants

Churches without ordination of women


in order of appearance

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  • Werner Neuer : Man and woman from a Christian perspective. 5th, revised edition. Brunnen-Verlag, Gießen et al. 1993, ISBN 3-7655-9503-9 .
  • Christine Globig: Ordination of Women in the Context of Lutheran Ecclesiology. A contribution to the ecumenical conversation (= church and denomination. Vol. 36). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1994, ISBN 3-525-56540-2 (also: Kiel, Universität, Dissertation, 1992).
  • Reinhard Slenczka : The ordination of women to the office of the church. In: Reinhard Slenczka: Office - marriage - wife. Four lectures on the occasion. Verlag der Lutherische Buchhandlung Harms, Groß Oesingen 1994, ISBN 3-86147-104-3 ; Pp. 8-25.
  • Joachim Vobbe : Go to my brothers. On the priestly mission of women in the church. Letter from the Bishop to the parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Old Catholics. Catholic Diocese of Old Catholics in Germany, Bonn February 1996.
  • Dagmar Herbrecht , Ilse Härter , Hannelore Erhart (ed.): The dispute over the ordination of women in the Confessing Church. Source texts on their history in World War II. Neukirchener, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1997, ISBN 3-7887-1649-5 .
  • Urs von Arx , Anastasios Kallis (Ed.): Image of Christ and sex. “Common reflections” and presentations by the Orthodox Old Catholic Consultation on the position of women in the Church and the ordination of women as an ecumenical problem, 25 February - 1 March 1996 in Levádhia (Greece) and 10-15 April 1996. December 1996 in Konstancin (Poland) (= international church journal. NF year 88, issue 2 = issue 422, ZDB -ID 5855-5 ). Stämpfli, Bern 1998.
  • Dagmar Herbrecht: Emancipation or Adaptation. Paths of argumentation of the theologians in the dispute over the ordination of women in the Confessing Church. Neukirchener, Neukirchen-Vluyn 2000, ISBN 3-7887-1785-8 (also: Kassel, University, dissertation, 1999).
  • John Wijngaards : The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church. Unmasking a Cuckoo's Egg Tradition. Darton, Longman & Todd, London 2001, ISBN 0-232-52420-3 .
  • Werner Ertel, Gisela Forster (ed.): "We are priestesses". On the current occasion: the consecration of women 2002. Patmos, Düsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-70363-8 .
  • Ida Raming : Priesthood of women - God's gift for a renewed church (= Theological research on women in Europe. Vol. 7). Lit, Münster et al. 2002, ISBN 3-8258-5579-1 .
  • John Wijngaards: No Holy Orders for Women? The Women Deacons of the Early Church. Canterbury Press, Norwich 2002, ISBN 1-85311-507-X .
  • Sabine Demel : Women and Church Office. The end of a taboo in the Catholic Church. Herder, Freiburg (Breisgau) et al. 2004, ISBN 3-451-28514-2 .
  • Quirin Weber, ordination of women - necessary "signs of the times", in: Schweizerische Kirchenzeitung (SKZ) 37 (2016), 465–472.
  • Federal teaching work of the Bund Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden: Opinions on the “service of women” (= working material on spiritual service. Special vol. 2). Books on Demand, Norderstedt 2005, ISBN 3-8334-2556-3 .

Web links

Pros and cons of women's ordination

Pro women's ordination

Against women's ordination

Individual evidence

  1. Plin. Ep. 10.96.8 : Quo magis necessarium credidi ex duabus ancillis, quae ministrae dicebantur, quid esset veri, et per tormenta quaerere.
  2. Hippol. , Trad. apostle 1.11.1–5 (saw.): In it, Hippolytus mentions the special regulation for widows who were not ordained, but called by name for prayer service, whereby they were expressly excluded from priestly services such as offerings and diaconate.
  3. ^ Paul Peuker: Women Priests in the Moravian Church in 1758. (pdf, 771 kB) In: Moravian Messenger. June 26, 2009, pp. 1-2 , archived from the original on December 3, 2011 ; accessed on September 10, 2019 (English).
  4. From "Fräulein Pfarrer" to Reformed pastor. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . October 27, 2018, accessed October 29, 2019 .
  5. There were exceptions in the states of the Eastern Bloc . The Czech bishop Felix Maria Davídek consecrated Ludmila Javorová as a priestess in the Czech underground church and appointed her vicar general .
  6. Christ in the Present , No. 21/2016, p. 222
  7. Joachim Cardinal Meisner: Can only men represent Christ? In: directly to Joachim Cardinal Meisner. August 30, 2012, archived from the original on October 29, 2013 ; accessed on September 10, 2019 .
  8. Ralf-Uwe Beck: Long-term effects of the Reformation: priesthood of all believers, ordination of women, position of the communities. Bishop Kähler on Reformation Day on October 31. In: ekd.de. October 28, 2005, archived from the original on September 29, 2007 ; accessed on August 13, 2019 .
  9. ^ A b Rajah Scheepers: The stony path from women to the rectory. In: Meeting point: magazine of the Ev. Matthäusgemeinde Berlin-Steglitz , No. 5, September / October 2018, p. 4f., Here p. 5.
  10. Heike Köhler: Milestone of women's ordination. In: landeskirche-hannovers.de. January 12, 2013, accessed November 24, 2018 .
  11. Rajah Scheepers: The stony path from women to the rectory. In: Meeting point: magazine of the Ev. Matthäusgemeinde Berlin-Steglitz , No. 5, September / October 2018, Parish Church Council of the Matthäusgemeinde Berlin-Steglitz (ed.), P. 4f., Here p. 4.
  12. Rainer Hering: Women in the pulpit? The disputes over women's ordination and equal rights for theologians in the Hamburg regional church. (pdf, 768 kB) In: Contemporary Church History (20th Century): Hamburg Church History in Essays, Part 5 (Works on the Church History of Hamburg, Volume 26). ISBN 978‐3‐937816‐46‐3, 2008, pp. 105–153 , accessed on September 10, 2019 (reproduced on the website of the University of Hamburg).
  13. Special events from 200 years of history of the Bavarian regional church. Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, May 7, 2009, archived from the original on May 10, 2009 ; accessed on September 10, 2019 .
  14. ^ Obituary: "We have changed the churches". In: sueddeutsch.de . June 9, 2020, accessed July 20, 2020 .
  15. ^ History. Institute for Practical Theology and Psychology of Religion Evangelical Theological Faculty of the University of Vienna, archived from the original on January 18, 2015 ; accessed on September 10, 2019 .
  16. ^ William J. Tighe: Latvia revived: Archbishop Janis Vanags on Finding & Keeping the Faith in Post-Soviet Latvia. In: Touchstone. May 2001, accessed on September 10, 2019 (English, interview).
  17. Latvian Lutheran church officially bans women's ordination. In: The Baltic Times . June 4, 2016, archived from the original on June 5, 2016 ; accessed on September 10, 2019 (English).
  18. Ordination of Women in the Anglican Church of Canada (Deacons, Priests and Bishops). Anglican Church of Canada, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  19. Jim Solheim: First woman bishop receives fond farewell from US church. In: Anglican Journal. December 1, 2005, archived from the original on December 2002 ; accessed on September 10, 2019 (English).
  20. ^ Church of England: Women are allowed to become bishops. In: Süddeutsche.de . July 14, 2014, archived from the original on July 14, 2014 ; accessed on September 10, 2019 .
  21. Pat Storey: First Anglican bishop appointed in Ireland. In: Spiegel Online . September 20, 2013, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  22. ^ Anna Morrell: Election of Wales' first woman bishop is confirmed. The Church in Wales, December 1, 2016, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  23. ^ Scottish Episcopal Church appoints first female bishop. In: BBC.com. November 9, 2017, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  24. 119th Session of the National Synod of the Christian Catholic Church in Switzerland, 15./16. March 1991, Zurich, Minutes p. 31.
  25. Declaration of the International Old Catholic Bishops' Conference (IBK) on the question of the ordination of women of July 5, 1991. In: Internationale Kirchliche Zeitschrift Vol. 82 (1992), pp. 197f., Here p. 198.
  26. Women's ordination. In: alt-katholisch.de. Archived from the original on February 11, 2009 ; accessed on September 11, 2019 .
  27. Laurence J. Orzell: Disunion of Utrecht: Old Catholics Fall Out over New Doctrines. In: Touchstone. May 2004, archived from the original on December 1, 2010 ; accessed on September 11, 2019 (English).
  28. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith : Inter insigniores: “Declaration on the question of the admission of women to the priesthood”. In: vatican.va. October 15, 1976, Retrieved September 12, 2019 .
  29. ^ Clement of Rome : First Clement's letter . Rome, Chapter 44 The apostles tried to prevent controversy by appointing bishops. ( unifr.ch - around 100 AD).
  30. can. 1024 CIC "Candidates"
  31. ^ Franjo Šeper , Jérôme Hamer, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Declaration on the question of the admission of women to the priesthood. In: vatican.va. October 15, 1976, Retrieved September 12, 2019 . .
    Excerpts also in: DH 4590.
  32. Pope John Paul II: Ordinatio sacerdotalis: Apostolic letter "On ordination reserved for men only". In: vatican.va. May 22, 1994. Retrieved September 12, 2019 .
  33. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith : Answer to the doubt about the doctrine presented in the Apostolic Exhortation Ordinatio sacerdotalis. October 28, 1995 (reproduced on stjosef.at; also in: L'Osservatore Romano , weekly edition in German language 47/1995, p. 4).
  34. Marlis Gielen : Why women can also become priests. In: kathisch.de . March 23, 2020, accessed March 23, 2020 .
  35. Church 2011: A Necessary Awakening: Memorandum by Theology Professors on the Crisis of the Catholic Church. In: memorandum-freiheit.de. February 4, 2011, accessed February 5, 2011 .
  36. Peter Winnemöller include: Petition per Ecclesia. February 8, 2011, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  37. Peter Winnemöller: One year later. In: Petition pro ecclesia. February 8, 2012, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  38. Answer from students and graduates of the cath. Theology on the Memorandum Church 2011: A Necessary Awakening. In: Memorandum “plus” freedom. February 26, 2011, archived from the original on January 15, 2014 ; accessed on September 10, 2019 .
  39. Anna Ferner, Hannes Uhl, Niki Nussbaumer: Rebellion of the believers: "We have enough". In: Kurier.at . February 7, 2009, archived from the original on April 13, 2009 ; accessed on September 10, 2019 .
  40. The refusal of access for women to all church offices must be justified: Osnabrück theses on women in church offices. In: ZdK.de . December 12, 2017. Retrieved May 12, 2019 .
  41. ^ Norbert Demuth: ZdK President sums up the General Assembly: "Groundbreaking Resolutions". In: Domradio . May 12, 2019, accessed on May 12, 2019 (interview).
  42. kfd calls for priestly ordination for women: theological questions clarified. In: kathisch.de . June 21, 2019, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  43. Challenge Justice: Guidelines '99: Resolutions of the Assembly of Delegates of the Catholic Women's Community in Germany. (pdf, 190 kB) Katholische Frauengemeinschaft Deutschlands (kfd), May 27, 2000, p. 6 , accessed on October 15, 2019 .
  44. Position paper: equal and entitled: All services and offices for women in the church. Katholische Frauengemeinschaft Deutschlands (KFD), June 21, 2019, accessed on October 15, 2019 .
  45. Catholic children and youth organizations want women's priesthood. In: kathisch.de. September 9, 2019, accessed September 10, 2019 .
  46. kirche-und-leben.de: Catholic women's association in Münster looks to Synodal Way , November 28, 2019.
  47. Domradio.de : " We are still experiencing it", discussion about the ordination of women , March 31, 2017
  48. https://www.dbk.de/fileadmin/redaktion/Synoden/gemeinsame_Synode/band1/synode.pdf Joint synod of the dioceses in the Federal Republic of Germany
  49. ^ Bishops' Conference: Cardinal Kasper proposes a new office for women. In: Spiegel Online . February 20, 2013, accessed August 13, 2019 .
  50. D: Confusion about 'deacon office' for women. In: Vatican Radio . April 30, 2013, archived from the original on June 5, 2013 ; accessed on August 13, 2019 .
  51. ^ D: Bishop Voderholzer against the diaconate of women. In: Vatican Radio. April 29, 2013, archived from the original on March 9, 2016 ; accessed on August 13, 2019 .
  52. Zollitsch's push towards women's diaconate meets with rejection and skepticism. In: evangelisch.de . April 30, 2013, archived from the original on May 12, 2013 ; accessed on August 1, 2019 .
  53. ^ Gabriele Höfling: No ordination of women? “The church constructs its arguments”. In: kathisch.de . August 13, 2019, accessed August 13, 2019 .
  54. ^ Vatican Radio on the establishment of the commission
  55. Katholisch.de: Overbeck thoughtful: Attach priesthood to a Y chromosome? , accessed October 29, 2019
  56. Sueddeutsche.de: Now the Pope has to decide , October 27, 2019
  57. https://www.vaticannews.va/de/papst/news/2020-02/exhortation-querida-amazonia-papst-franziskus-synode-wortlaut.html Wording: Querida Amazonia by Pope Francis
  58. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Explanation on the simulated "ordinations" of "priestesses". July 10, 2012, accessed on September 12, 2019 (published on St Josef.at). Joachim Müller: ordination of women by "Archbishop" Romulo Braschi, Catholic-Apostolic Charismatic Church of Jesus King. Background information. In: Bistum-Basel.ch. June 18, 2002, archived from the original on May 21, 2003 ; accessed on September 12, 2019 .
  59. ^ Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Decree establishing excommunication. In: vatican.va. August 5, 2002, accessed September 12, 2019 . Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Decree refusing to appeal to certain excommunicated women. In: vatican.va. December 21, 2002, accessed September 12, 2019 . Vatican decree confirms once again: 'priestesses' are excommunicated. In: kath.net . January 27, 2003, accessed September 12, 2019 . Church kicks out women 'priests'. In: BBC . August 5, 2002, accessed September 12, 2019 .

  60. Angela Berlis : No consecrated Danube journey: To the consecration of Roman Catholic women on June 29, 2002. In: Schlangenbrut 78. Archived from the original on January 29, 2017 ; Retrieved September 12, 2019 (published on the Church's website from below ).
  61. ^ John Anthony McGuckin: The Orthodox Church: an Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture. John Wiley & Sons, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4443-9383-5 , pp. 327 ( books.google.com ). Gary Macy et al .: Women deacons: past, present, future . Paulist Press, 2011, ISBN 978-1-61643-052-8 ( books.google.com ). Phyllis Zagano: 'Grant Her Your Spirit'. In: America: The National Catholic Weekly. October 8, 2004, archived from the original on June 18, 2006 ; accessed on September 12, 2019 (English). Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald: SCOBA Bishops' Conference October 3-6, 2006 Chicago, Il .: Toward a Complete Expression of the Diaconate: Discerning the Ministry Women Deacons. (pdf, 45 kB) March 22, 2007, archived from the original on May 29, 2008 ; accessed on September 12, 2019 (English).

  62. Gabriela Fraňková Malinová: 60 years of women's ordination in the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren. In: e-cirkev.cz . April 11, 2014, accessed September 12, 2019 .
  63. ^ Ordination of women. In: ebu.de. Retrieved September 12, 2019 . Mary Matz: Ordination of Women in the Moravian Church in America in the eighteenth Century. In: Vernon H. Nelson: Transatlantic Moravian Dialogue-Correspondence, March 17, 1999. Reproduced under the title: Women in ordained Ministry. An Historical Perspective. The Moravian, September 2005.
  64. ^ Statement of the board of the Swiss Movement Plus: Service and position of women in the communities of the Movement Plus. (pdf, 8 kB) December 14, 2010, archived from the original on January 4, 2017 ; accessed on September 12, 2019 .
  65. Martina Schneibergová, Jana Sustova: The Old Catholic Church has its first deacon. In: Radio Praha . October 30, 2003, accessed September 12, 2019 .
  66. ^ A Brief Description of American Baptist Women in Ministry. In: abwim.org. 2001, archived from the original on December 15, 2004 ; accessed on September 12, 2019 (English).
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  68. Klaus Rösler: EBF saddened by the exit of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Resolution: Talks should enable the return to the EBF family. In: baptisten.org. October 2, 2006, archived from the original on April 13, 2008 ; accessed on September 12, 2019 .
  69. a b Agnieszka Godfrejow-Tarnogórska: 50 years of women's ordination in Estonia. In: LutheranWorld.org. September 17, 2017. Retrieved September 12, 2019 .
  70. ↑ The North American Church Celebrates 35 Years of Ordination of Women. In: Lutheran World Information LWI edition 07/2005. August 16, 2005, archived from the original on April 13, 2008 ; accessed on September 12, 2019 .
  71. First ordination of women in the Lutheran Church of Taiwan. In: LWI edition 12/2004. December 21, 2004, archived from the original at 20080413150538 ; accessed on September 12, 2019 .
  72. Frank Imhoff: wfn.org - Lutheran pastor becomes Ethiopia's first ordained woman ( en ) June 19, 2000. Accessed December 7, 2019.
  73. ^ Rev. Susan Johnson Elected as National Bishop of the ELCIC. In: elcic.ca . June 22, 2007, accessed September 12, 2019 .
  74. Bundesunterrichtswerk des BFP (Ed.): Statements on the “Service of Women” in the context of the 2004 Federal Conference ; Erzhausen: Leuchter, 2004. For Germany: Bund Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden KdöR: Guidelines of the BFP 2007 ( Memento from January 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 78 kB), point 3.2
  75. World Alliance of Reformed Churches: The ordination of women in WARC member churches The ordination of women in WARC member churches. Based on data supplied in 1998 ( Memento from December 30, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  76. ^ Presbyterian Church of Wales: Our History ( Memento April 20, 2016 in the Internet Archive )