Women violate canon law and carry the monstrance


Women process with monstrance, sparking scandal

Laity 'playact as priests' in Corpus Christi procession, defying canon law

LÜDENSCHEID, Germany - Female pastoral workers in a German parish are triggering outrage among faithful Catholics after the women processed with the Blessed Sacrament on the feast of Corpus Christi.

Marita Franzen and Sandra Ostermann, who hold the position of gemeindereferentin  (pastoral officer) in the Catholic parish of St. Joseph and St. Medardus in Lüdenscheid, were photographed carrying the sacred monstrance in violation of canon law.

The parish is overseen by Dr. Franz-Josef Overbeck, bishop of Essen, who has called for a radical revision of the Church's teachings on homosexuality, has repeatedly vocalized his support for blessing same-sex unions and called for the "depathologization" of homosexuality.

The parish of St. Medardus bragged on its website that the women lay assistants processing with the Blessed Sacrament constituted a "new achievement."

"If you look closely, you will see a new achievement: the monstrance is sometimes carried by pastoral officers Marita Franzen and Sandra Ostermann," the website noted.

Pictures show the monstrance being carried in turn by Ms. Franzen and Ms. Ostermann under a baldacchino (processional canopy), while parish priest Fr. Claus Optenhöfel follows the women in the procession.

The women have no sacramental competence or faculties to preside at a Corpus Christi procession.GabTweet

The Latin words of the traditional hymn attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas, "Tantum ergo sacramentum, veneremus cernui," are seen embroidered around the baldacchino, which is being held by laymen from the parish.

The women monstrance-bearers are wearing an alb, a cope and a humeral veil to hold the Blessed Sacrament.

Deacon Nick Donnelly, a popular English cleric and author, told Church Militant that he was appalled by the fact that the women were allowed to "play act as priests" in such a solemn liturgical ceremony. 

"The women have no sacramental competence or faculties to preside at a Corpus Christi procession," Donnelly stated. "They are anticipating women acting as faux deacons, even faux priests. This is an illicit simulation of priestly and diaconal liturgical actions." 

"The scandal of a woman carrying the monstrance in a Corpus Christi procession is even greater if priests and deacons are present because it symbolically nullifies the significance and dignity of the sacrament of Holy Orders," Donnelly lamented.

Canon 943 of the Code of Canon Law states:

The minister of exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament and of eucharistic benediction is a priest or deacon; in special circumstances, the minister of exposition and reposition alone without benediction is the acolyte, extraordinary minister of holy communion, or someone else designated by the local ordinary; the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are to be observed.

Donnelly explained why the canon did not provide an exception to permit women pastoral workers to carry the monstrance in a Corpus Christi procession.

If a priest or deacon is not available, then a lay person can expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration, but cannot give the benediction which is a sanctifying act. A priest or deacon has faculties to sanctify through the sacrament of Holy Orders; a lay person does not. What is the purpose of a Eucharistic procession? People bless themselves as the Blessed Sacrament passes them. I see a Eucharistic procession as a sanctifying act.

"Strictly speaking, even a deacon should not preside at benediction if a priest is available because the priest has a fuller share in Christ's munera," Donnelly maintained.

The parish of St. Medardus, which is comprised of four churches, has four priests and one deacon on its staff. It also has four pastoral workers, who are all women.

Women's ordination campaigners in Germany have been ratcheting up demands for female deacons with a recently invented "Day of the Deaconess" celebrated on the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, Church Militant reported.

The German juggernaut for women's ordination gained momentum after Pope Francis created a new commission to study the possibility of women deacons in April 2020.

In March 2023, delegates of the German Synodal Way overwhelmingly passed measures to ordain women to the sacramental diaconate. Only 10 of 58 bishops voted against the measure titled "Women in sacramental ministry: Perspectives for the universal church."