Whether women can be ordained to the priesthood is an open question, Hardt asserted, saying, "on the one hand we have a definitive decision by Pope John Paul II on the question of the ordination of women and on the other hand we still do not have a final answer. At least in Germany this question is discussed very openly, especially among theologians. It is clear that there is a need for a global ecclesial consensus for this which currently is not the case."
Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have all taught that the sacrament of ordination is reserved to men by divine institution, and that, while the role of female "deacons" in the early Church can be studied, such study does not imply that women can be ordained sacramentally.
Despite its demands and – initially - very small numbers, "Mary 2.0" has not only received support from several German prelates but also sustained coverage in Germany, where many Catholics are turning their back on a church in crisis in the wake of the abuse scandals and other controversies, with a recent prognosis predicting the number of Catholics in the country will halve by 2060, and Church attendance in constant decline, hovering at the 10 percent mark on average according to most recent official figure.
In March, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising announced that the church in Germany would embark on a "binding synodal process" to tackle what he described as the three key issues arising from the clerical abuse crisis: priestly celibacy, the Church's teaching on sexual morality, and a reduction of clerical power.
More recently, another German bishop, Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, voiced similar expectations for the "Pan-Amazonian Synod" in October.
Overbeck, who also leads the influential Catholic Latin America relief organization Adveniat, predicted that "nothing will be as it was before" after that synod.
Speaking to journalists on May 2, he said that the role of women in the Church would be reconsidered at the meeting, and so would sexual morality, the role of the priesthood and the overall hierarchical structure of the Church. The synod will take place from October 6 to 27.
This story was originally published by CNA Deutsch, CNA's German-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.