The German Church and Its Separate Path for “Deaconesses”

Source: FSSPX News

The auxiliary bishop of Essen, Ludger Schepers, celebrated the closing Mass of a formation course for “deaconesses” on April 15, 2024. The Netzwerk Diakonat der Frau or Network for the Female Diaconate, has given a series of courses over several years, aimed at preparing for the introduction of deaconesses into the Church. It was organized for the third time at the Waldbreitbach convent.

The Netzwerk Diakonat der Frau, founded in 1997, has since 1999 been organizing courses for women who feel called to become deacons. The president, Irmentraud Kobusch, explains: “We are an independent organization, and we can offer and certify such courses for women.”

Officially, the course is titled: “Continuing Education: Diaconal Leadership Services for Women in the Church.” The just completed training is the third, the first having taken place in 1999.

The training takes place on the premises of the Franciscan sisters’ convent in Waldebreitbach. The Würzburg theological correspondence course is required. The training extends over three years at the rate of one weekend every two months. 37 women were trained in three cycles.

Irmentraud Kobusch says that the idea of this training came to her after reading the letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis affirming that the priesthood is reserved for men, by divine right, and she concludes that “the diaconate for women” is not affected.

The president places her hope in Pope Francis and in the Synodal Path. “As a network, we have discussions with the working group on the permanent diaconate,” explains Kobusch. A common ministry for men and women would be the ideal model for the future of the Church.

Irmentraud Kobusch is convinced that there will one day be women Catholic deacons, in a completely official way. “We will persevere until the first woman is ordained a deacon in Germany,” she said. 

The Ceremony with Bishop Ludger Schepers

In a press release, the formation system for new graduates is recalled. “Auxiliary Bishop Schepers has long supported and accompanied the network of the female diaconate,” specifies the press release.

It continues: “In his sermon, delivered with Sr. Edith-Maria Magar, superior general of the Franciscans of Waldbreitbach, he emphasized that women are also called. Women rightly feel discriminated against and marginalized in the Church because of their vocation.” 

The press release continues: “Women are shocked that this imbalance is not considered a problem that must be remedied.… Although he could not yet ordain the women, the bishop blessed each of them when they received their certificate.”

Georg Bätzing, the president of the German bishops' conference, sent a message of congratulations: “You are a blessing for our Church,” he wrote.