Uta Ranke-Heinemann

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Uta Ranke-Heinemann

Uta Johanna Ingrid Ranke-Heinemann (born October 2, 1927 in Essen ) is a German theologian and author .


Uta Ranke-Heinemann is the eldest daughter of Gustav Heinemann and his wife Hilda , a descendant of Albrecht von Haller . She grew up in Essen's Moltkeviertel and still lives there now.

School, studies and teaching until 1987

Uta Heinemann was the first female high school graduate at the Burggymnasium in Essen and was the only one in the class to receive the Abitur "with distinction". This title was rare at the time, the last one had existed 30 years before.

From 1947 to 1953 she studied Protestant theology for 13 semesters in Basel , Oxford , Montpellier and Bonn . After her conversion on September 25, 1953, she studied Catholic theology in Munich , where she was a fellow student of Elisabeth Gössmann and Joseph Ratzinger . In 1954 she was with the dogmatist Michael Schmaus with the dissertation The early monasticism. His motives based on the self-testimonies of the first monks for Dr. theol. PhD magna cum laude .

On December 30, 1954, she married her former classmate, the (Catholic) religion teacher Edmund Ranke. Her two sons, Johannes and Andreas, were born in 1958 and 1960.

From 1955 she was first a lecturer at the Archbishop's Catechetical Seminar in Bonn and from 1965 at the Pedagogical University in Neuss . In 1969 she became the first woman in the world to complete her habilitation in Catholic theology (the main reviewer was Karl Rahner ) and then became the first female professor in this subject in January 1970.

In 1980, after the college of education in North Rhine-Westphalia was closed, she was appointed to the University of Duisburg and in 1985 to the University of Essen , where she taught the New Testament and Old Church History .

Loss of the theological chair

Since the 1970s, her critical stance on many church issues has been noticed. The fact that she was accepted in Marburg by Rudolf Bultmann , with whom Hilda Heinemann had passed her theological state examination in 1926 , in order to avoid the bombardment of Essen, and that she lived with Bultmann's family until the end of the war, contributed significantly to this and to her pacifism . On January 16, 1945, Gustav Heinemann wrote to Gustav Heinemann about the intensity of her relationship with Bultmann and about her stay with his family:

"We are happy to have your daughter with us [...] so that we feel like her own little daughter. Everyone likes her in her cheerful grace and in her friendliness and willingness to help [...] I enjoy doing Greek with her. I am very curious to see how she will develop [...] with her great gifts one can hope for very beautiful things [...] My colleague and friend Reidemeister , who is a mathematician, was delighted with Uta's talent when she recently visited him. "

After she questioned the dogma of the virgin birth on April 15, 1987 in a broadcast on WDR television from the Marian pilgrimage site in Kevelaer : “Many Jews were killed because they could not believe in the virgin birth. And I can't do that either, ”said Essen's Bishop Franz Hengsbach on June 15, 1987 , revoking her license to teach Catholic theology.

In her view that the virgin birth should not be understood biologically but theologically, Ranke-Heinemann saw herself confirmed by statements of the theologians Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger and referred to them in the television program of the West 3 magazine “Gott und die Welt ", Topic: Virgo birth, on June 13, 1987. She referred to Rahner's designation of the virgin birth as the legendary Midrash and to the following passage from Ratzinger's book Introduction to Christianity :

"The divine sonship of Jesus is not due to the fact that Jesus had no human father of ecclesiastical faith; the doctrine of Jesus' godliness would not be affected if Jesus had emerged from a normal human marriage. For the sonship of God, of which faith speaks, is not a biological, but an ontological fact; not a process in time, but in God's eternity. "

Ratzinger had already corrected these sentences in 1977 in his book The Daughter of Zion - Reflections on the Church's Belief in Mary . However , they remained completely unchanged in new editions of Introduction to Christianity . The Dominican Willehad Paul Eckert (1926–2005) replied Ranke-Heinemann in the aforementioned television program: "What Ratzinger and Rahner say is wrong, you must not refer to them."

The dogmatics professor Johann Auer (1910–1989) had previously written to Ranke-Heinemann on June 11, 1987: “I followed the latest events about you in the press with concern… The word about the 'biological virgin birth' is a misleading one, grown on the fundamentally atheistic modern understanding of the world, where God no longer belongs to the worldview, since Rahner and Ratzinger entered Christology and is widespread today, but has therefore not become more correct. ”Auer asked her to voluntarily resign from her chair. "In good old memories of the times in Bonn - your old colleague Johann Auer."

On June 14, 1987 Ranke-Heinemann wrote a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger asking for help. After she lost her theological chair on June 15, 1987, she was given a church-independent chair for the history of religion at the end of 1987 . In her book No and Amen , published in 2002, she called the doctrine of the virgin birth "theological schizophrenia" with regard to the family trees of Jesus . She considers herself excommunicated according to Can. 1364 § 1 CIC and Can. 751 CIC, because she refuses to accept the Christian creed ( especially: "born of the Virgin Mary") and thus excommunication as a punishment (excommunicatio latae sententiae) according to Can. 1314 CIC had occurred. An excommunication as a sentence (excommunicatio ferendae sententiae) was not pronounced against them.

Hauptwerk - Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven

Her main work Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven - Catholic Church and Sexuality (published in October 1988) took second place in the list of non-fiction books in the SPIEGEL's 1989 bestseller list with 300,000 copies. In 2000 it was considerably expanded as a Heyne paperback edition (especially the chapter on " Homosexuality "). In 2012 the Heyne paperback was expanded to include a chapter on Benedict XVI. expanded. In the book Ranke-Heinemann gives her impression of the 2000-year history of Catholic sexual morality, from Jesus to Benedict XVI. The author's knowledge of twelve languages ​​proved useful for the accuracy of the translations.

Pediatric crime allegations against clergy

Ranke-Heinemann describes pedophilia as “the danger of a monosexual church”, which has succeeded in expelling women in 2000 years, but not yet de-sexualising. It is not yet clear how long the church will now need to breed the "chaste homosexual" as required in the 1992 World Catechism in No. 2357-9. The only thing that is clear is: “As long as priests who have been compulsorily desexualized are united with men, women, young people and children in dark confessional whispers, the confessional will increasingly develop into a contact forum for sex neurotics, in which pedophilia cannot be excluded, and should therefore be used for children and Young people are banned. "

The absolute secrecy of pedophilia cases was ordered to all bishops in the two secret letters Crimen Sollicitationis 1962 and again in De delictis gravioribus of 2001 under the penalty of excommunication. They said nothing about helping those affected.

On the occasion of allegations against the Regensburg Bishop Müller after a priest with a previous conviction for child sexual abuse relapsed in office, Ranke-Heinemann stated in several interviews in September / October 2007 that Cardinal Ratzinger's 2001 letter continued to cause great harm to the children concerned and young people all over the world, which is why they Pope Benedict XVI. please take it back because of its "total obstruction of justice for the state courts".

The trend towards secrecy about sexual abuse of children, which Ratzinger took to extremes in 2001, is visible to everyone when comparing Can. 2368 § 2 and Can. 904 CIC 1917 with Can. 1387 CIC 1983: There is no longer any question of an obligation to report to the bishop and the Holy Office (denuntiare loci Ordinario, vel Sacrae Congregationi S. Officii) . Documents from state authorities would be returned unopened by the Vatican, such as: B. one from Public Prosecutor Rick Romley from Phoenix (Arizona) to Cardinal Angelo Sodano with the note "retour, rinvio, refuse" (= acceptance refused) on the envelope.

The allegation of absolute secrecy of pedo-criminal cases from non-church authorities, which Gotthold Hasenhüttl joined, is controversial. Canon law experts like Alexander Pytlik claim that there is no question of secret writing in the case of Crimen sollicitationis from 1962 and De delictis gravioribus and Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela from 2001, which are publicly accessible. In terms of content, it is about the protection of the secrecy of confession and rules for the canonical procedure, which neither affect the state criminal procedure nor the victim's right to complain and to claim damages.

Development policy, peace movement and humanitarian aid

In addition to teaching, Ranke-Heinemann has also been involved in development policy and humanitarian aid since the 1970s . She campaigned for a ban on napalm as well as the abolition of all nuclear weapons and brought medicines and other relief supplies to Hanoi during the Vietnam War in 1972, to India in 1973 and to Cambodia in 1979. In the 1980s she was involved in the peace movement , was a candidate for the peace list and appeared as a speaker at numerous rallies.

Candidate for the office of Federal President

In 1999 the independent pacifist was a PDS candidate for the office of Federal President because of her protest against Germany's participation in the Kosovo war against Yugoslavia (see: Election of the German Federal President 1999 ). She was clearly subject to Johannes Rau , the husband of her niece Christina .

No and amen (farewell to traditional Christianity)

Uta Ranke-Heinemann at the World Youth Day 2005

After the death of her husband on September 11, 2001 (who "ripped her out of her anchor") Ranke-Heinemann dedicated the final chapter A flower to my husband's grave in the expanded version of her work No and Amen , published in 2002 by Heyne, Munich , with the changed subtitle: My Farewell to Traditional Christianity came out. It says:

“The memory of Rudolf Bultmann , the scholar full of helpfulness, the enlightened full of piety, has accompanied me through my life when my doubts grew bigger. But at the same time his example taught me that the skeptic can also be a Christian, if not in the traditional way. "

She rejects the interpretation of the crucifixion of Jesus as redemption in a "sevenfold negative creed":

  1. The Bible is not the word of God but of man.
  2. That God exists in three persons stems from human imagination.
  3. Jesus is man and not God.
  4. Mary is the mother of Jesus and not the mother of God .
  5. God created heaven and earth, and people invented hell .
  6. There is neither original sin nor devil .
  7. A bloody redemption on the cross is a pagan religion of human sacrifice based on the religious Stone Age pattern.

Ranke-Heinemann writes:

"And so I went away [...] from the God with the bloody hands, who sacrificed his only son for us [...] and turned away from the theologians [...] their intellectual hostility and their cruel fairy tales and no longer believed them [...] ]. I finally fled to the doubters because doubt still seemed safest to me. [...] And among them I found some who at one but could not doubt: that everything that is, has a cause, because nothing comes from nothing. […] And I felt ready to speak to the genius among doubters, the philosopher Descartes , in view of the perfection of the author: 'I would like to linger a moment contemplating this perfect God. I would like to contemplate, admire and worship the incomparable beauty of this infinite light, as far as the comprehension of my mind allows, which is blinded by this light '. "

It takes up Descartes' religious-philosophical thoughts on proof of God and on life after death . Because God is also the God of philosophers (cf. Blaise Pascal's criticism of Descartes and the philosophers in his memorial : “The God of Abraham is not the God of philosophers”). Descartes lost his only child in 1640, his five-year-old daughter Francine. He described her death as the "greatest pain" of his life. In October 1642 he wrote to Constantijn Huygens , the father of the astronomer Christiaan Huygens : We humans were “born for much greater joys and much greater happiness than we can experience on this earth […] We will find the dead again one day, and with the memory of the past. Because there is an intellectual memory in us that is undoubtedly independent of our body. "

She writes: “And when the black doubts come back and helplessness and abandonment have prevailed since the death of my husband tore me out of my anchor, then in my grief over the futility of my research into the inexplicable Immanuel Kant has comforted me that doubt has one Makes sense. He says: If we could see the 'majesty' and 'eternity' of God, the 'maker of the world', and 'prove it completely', we would freeze into 'puppets'. Our actions would get 'the coating of coercion and forced submission'. Disinterestedness and self-respect would suffer. That is why the unsearchable wisdom by which we exist is no less worthy of admiration in what it denied us than in what it gave us ”. Kant is convinced of a life after death, namely as "the continuation of the person and the awareness of the identity of oneself. Not metempsychosis (= transmigration of souls), as he writes in his papers."

The theologian's knowledge-guiding interest is now, as it was for Jean Paul, the question of a life after death, when only “the largest and most invisible hand has the key to the buried coffins of our deceased loved one, to which no mortal can penetrate”.

“And Sadducees came to Jesus who, as is well known, say that there is no resurrection,” and Jesus said: “God is not a God of the dead, but of the living. You are very wrong. ”( Mk 12.18.27  EU ) Ranke-Heinemann explains that after the loss of her faith“ the beginning and the end of the Christian creed, God and eternal life ”remained: hope and love.

See also


  • Wisdom of the desert fathers . Patmos, Düsseldorf 1958.
  • Protestantism. Essence and becoming . With a foreword by Karl Rahner . Hans Driewer, Essen 1962.
  • Of Christian existence . Hans Driewer, Essen 1964.
  • Early monasticism. His motives after the self-testimonies . Hans Driewer, Essen 1964.
  • Answer to current questions of faith . Hans Driewer, Essen 1965.
  • Thoughts on Sunday Epistles. A yearly cycle . Hans Driewer, Essen 1967.
  • Christianity for believers and unbelievers . Hans Driewer, Essen 1968.
  • The so-called mixed marriage. To the canon law issues of interdenominational marriage . Paulus / Bitter, Recklinghausen 1968.
  • Counter words. Peace speeches and polemics . TORSO, Essen 1985, ISBN 3-924868-03-4 .
    • extended to include texts on Maria and celibacy: Goldmann, Munich 1987.
  • Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven . Catholic Church and Sexuality . Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1988.
    • expanded paperback new edition: Heyne, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-453-16505-5 .
    • extended and updated new edition: Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven. Catholic Church and Sexuality from Jesus to Benedict XVI. Heyne, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-453-16505-2 .
  • No and amen. Guide to Faith Doubt . Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1992, ISBN 3-455-08457-5 .
    • Completed new edition: No and Amen. My departure from traditional Christianity . Heyne, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-453-21182-0 .
    • updated new edition for the 90th birthday: No and Amen. My departure from traditional Christianity. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2017, ISBN 978-3-455-00190-7 .


  • Werner Alberts: Uta Ranke-Heinemann. Farewell to Christianity . Patmos, Düsseldorf 2004, ISBN 3-491-72476-7 .

Web links

Commons : Uta Ranke-Heinemann  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Moist south wind . In: Der Spiegel . No. 3 , 1981, p. 54-55 ( Online - Jan. 12, 1981 ).
  2. Article about Ranke-Heinemann's Abitur in ZEIT
  3. "in search of great tolerance [...] but in the Christian churches every change of denomination only leads from bad to worse". No and amen. My departure from traditional Christianity . Munich 2002, p. 432.
  4. Uta Ranke-Heinemann: The BDM cellar in my father's house . In: Alfred Neven DuMont (Ed.): Born 1926/27 - Memories of the years under the swastika . Cologne 2007, pp. 95-106.
  5. ^ Excerpts from the correspondence between Rudolf Bultmann and Gustav Heinemann .
  6. ^ Karl Rahner: On the subject of virgin birth. 2nd Edition. Stuttgart 1970, p. 124 f.
  7. ^ 2nd edition, Munich 1968, p. 225
  8. Unchanged original version of the aforementioned television program "Gott und die Welt" from June 13, 1987 (WDR-Fernsehen-Archiv, Cologne). For the problem of the original version, see these letter publications .
  9. Alexander Schwabe: Ratzinger - pure Latin. In: Spiegel Online. April 16, 2007, accessed July 19, 2007 . Publication and commentary on this letter .
  10. ^ No and Amen , 2002, p. 98.
  11. Uta Ranke-Heinemann: The Pope and the holey condoms. In: Junge Welt . 9/10 September 2006.
  12. ^ Annual bestseller 1989 - fiction, non-fiction books . In: Der Spiegel . No. 1 , 1990, p. 152 ( online - Jan. 1, 1990 ). - Uta Ranke-Heinemann . In: Der Spiegel . No. 50 , 1990, pp. 271 ( Online - Dec. 10, 1990 ).
  13. "Chastity and Homosexuality" 2357–2359
  14. Guest contribution February 8, 2010
  15. Neues Deutschland - Debate September 17th, 2010 neue-deutschland.de Topic: Guidelines of the Catholic Church against sexual abuse ; see also eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. Catholic Church and Sexuality. From Jesus to Benedict XVI. Heyne, Munich 2012, p. 523. ISBN 978-3-453-16505-2
  16. ↑ In July 1999, the clergyman was sentenced to one year suspended prison sentence for an act of abuse in Viechtach. Shortly afterwards he became a pastor in the community of Riekofen, which was not informed of the criminal record. There he assaulted a child again. http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/paedophiler-peter-k-kurzer-prozess-fuer-den-kinderschaender-pfarrer-a-541374.html
  17. Sat.1 , Regionales NRW October 2, 2007, 5:30 pm - 6:00 pm.
  18. Can. 2368 § 2 CIC 1917: Fidelis vero, qui scienter omiserit eum, a quo sollicitatus fuerit, intra mensem denuntiare contra praescriptum can. 904, incurrit in excommunicationem latae sententiae nemini reservatam, non gradendus nisi postquam obligationi satisfecerit aut se satisfacturum serio promiserit. http://www.catho.org/9.php?d=bp5#fg
  19. Can. 904 CIC 1917: Ad normam constitutionum apostolicarum et nominatim constitutionis Benedicti XIV Sacramentum Poenitentiae, 1 June. 1741, debet poenitens sacerdotem, reum delicti sollicitationis in confessione, intra mensem denuntiare loci Ordinario, vel Sacrae Congregationi S. Officii; et confessarius debet, graviter onerata eius conscientia, de hoc onere poenitentem monere. http://www.catho.org/9.php?d=bpq#bq
  20. Can. 1387 CIC 1983: A priest who tries to seduce a penitent into a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue while administering the sacrament of penance or on occasion or under the pretext of confession, should, depending on the gravity of the crime, with suspension, with prohibitions , be punished with withdrawal of rights and, in more severe cases, with dismissal from the clergy. Archived copy ( Memento from July 20, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  21. Can 904 CIC 1917
  22. Canon Law Documents Sexual Abuse: Criticism of Roman secrecy is wrong. on: internetpfarre.de
  23. My search for the traces of God. Lecture from May 29, 2003
  24. 3sat , January 6, 2007
  25. No and amen . Heyne, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-453-21182-0 , p. 11.
  26. a b No and Amen , p. 417 and in a guest article on MAGDA, the authors' magazine
  27. ^ Meditations metaphysiques, III; No and Amen , p. 413ff.
  28. Critique of Practical Reason I, 2.2, IX and Critique of Judgment II, Allg. Note on teleology
  29. No and amen. 7th edition 2007, p. 431.
  30. Jean Paul , The Invisible Lodge; No and amen. P. 429