Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Oberösterreichische Nachrichten | OÖN | Nachrichten.at
"We sisters no longer see ourselves as servants of the clergy"
Superior General Kunigunde Fürst on ecclesiastical reform, and women priests. She is head of Austria's Council for Women Religious and a Franciscan of Vocklabrueck, which lies in the Diocese of Linz.
Many faithful call for a reform of the Catholic Church, for women to be admitted to ordained ministries, for more tolerance when dealing with divorced and remarried people. How important are these issues?
It's not the primary theme, but the cause of large dissatisfaction. Let us just take the question of the diaconate for women: Why is it not possible for these women to be ordained and commissioned for ministry in the Church? In places where they perform so many services. Why are they excluded? It is the fear of members of the hierarchy, that women get too close to the priesthood, and possibly also to the episcopate
Perhaps they fear giving women too much power in the Church?
This is a fear that is not for the good. If there really are women who are called, then they are not people of power, but those who want to be active in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Diaconate means- I make myself available, I will serve.
Should women be admitted to the priesthood?
I can well imagine it, though not for every woman. Things are changing. We sisters have always been seen as servants of the clergy. We no longer ourselves as servants of the clergy and proclaim it.
Does that mean you make the demands of the Parish Priests' Initiative your own?
I cannot rightly identify with the title “call to disobedience”. Disobedience is an emotive word that has brought the matter into disrepute. But the content is very important. Especially, as the Gospel is a message of grace and not only one of moral rules.
How do you assess the threat of sanctions, for example, by bishops, against the Parish Priests' Initiative?
I think nothing of it. Even by Saint Francis of Assisi, we know that things are addressed and addressed. He called at that time a popular movement to life and asked people to be address each other as familiars, also as far as priests were concerned. The renewal of the Church begins from below- from above, it will not come.
As Superior General, you are boss of 2800 colleagues. What makes a good manager?
She has to have happy employees, and motivate them to participate in the larger whole.
Does she not require performance?
The performance is a consequence. If people know that when all pull together, then they go forward of their own accord. We are all people who makes mistakes. When a manager says: "I do everything right," then it is surely wrong. You must be equally appreciative of all employees.
You have had an impressive career in the Order ......
I have not sought this . When I was elected superior general, my sisters somehow sent the goat to catch a thief. Because I was always very critical. With the motto: "I want to help the sisters to live," I took over the task. I wanted them to come out a little from the narrow circles of thinking and habits and to be open. In this context, our involvement in Kazakhstan was very important because it broadens the horizon.
You want to go to Kazakhstan this autumn to teach at a German school. From the top job at headquarters to assistant in a remote outpost – is this not an extreme step?
It may look like this. But I think I'm flexible enough to make this step. My bigger concern is the Russian language. Although I learned it in school, I now have to brush it up