The German Bishops’ Conference on Tuesday elected theologian Beate Gilles as secretary-general to replace Jesuit Hans Langendorfer. Beates Gilles had been responsible for family and youth affairs at the Limburg diocese.
Bishops’ Conference president Georg Batzing said her election is a sign that the Catholic bishops will follow through on their announcement to bring women into important positions within their church.
Besides thanking the bishops for electing her, Giles said her appointment is a great opportunity to work on building the future of the church.
“It is a challenging and exciting time for the German church. Something new has begun with the reform process and the synodal journey,” she said.
The so-called “synodal path” is a series of dialogues with laypeople whose purpose is to study possible reforms in the German church. This consultation process began after the scandals caused by the sexual abuse cases.
In Germany, lay movements are calling for more radical reforms, including the authorization of the female priesthood. The church hierarchy, however, is currently looking for a middle way that will satisfy the reformers somewhat but without creating a crisis with Rome.
Gilles, who has been responsible for family and youth affairs in the diocese of Limburg, was born in 1970 and studied theology at the University of Bonn.
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