Germany: A Nun Campaigns for the Ordination of Women

January 19, 2023
St. Hildegarde Abbey

Philippa Rath, a Benedictine nun from the St. Hildegarde Abbey, is campaigning for a reform of the Church. “The goal of my commitment is gender justice,” she said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag. This also includes the admission of women to the priesthood, stressed the nun, who plays a leading role in the German Synodal Path.

“Three years ago, when I said at the opening service of the Synodal Path that gender justice is the decisive issue for the future of the Church, I was very much alone,” said Sr. Philippa. “Today the President of the German Episcopal Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, and many other leaders see things the same way.”

The nun said it was a success that the matter was finally on the table and could no longer be swept under the rug.

She was convinced herself “that I will live to see the first ordained women,” said the Benedictine, whose book Because God Wills: Women Speak of Their Vocation to be Deacons and Priests, was published in 2021.

“What is decisive is not gender, but the fact of being human. After all, as we confess in the Creed, God became human and not [masculine] man.”

Sister Philippa then spoke in favor of the option of compulsory celibacy for priests. In this context, she referred to a text from the “Forum of Synodal Path Priests.” She appreciated how a life of celibacy is “blessed, fulfilling and meaningful.” As a Benedictine, she could testify to this with her life.

“What is decisive, however, is that we religious live celibacy voluntarily and in community. Many priests, on the other hand, accepted it as a necessary evil. When I see so many priests alone, I shudder. Others lead a double life. I imagine it's just as heavy.”

The Church will always exist “because the good news of Jesus remains and is always relevant,” emphasized Sister Philippa. “But the form of the Church will change. Many well-established forms are on the verge of collapse. Then something new can emerge.”

This nun has simply lost her faith. First, she opposes a definite point of Catholic faith as to the priesthood being reserved for men, and second, she wants to change the “form of the Church,” in other words, she wants to do better than Jesus Christ.