• Austria's news in English

The female priest on the wrong side of the Vatican

The Local · 11 Nov 2014, 12:11

Published: 11 Nov 2014 12:11 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A former school teacher, Mayr-Lumetzberger came under the spotlight after she and a group of other Catholic women announced they had been ordained as priests by a retired bishop on a boat in the middle of the Danube.

The so-called Danube Seven have inspired at least 100 other women to follow in their footsteps. In 2003 Mayr-Lumetzberger took it one stage further by being consecrated a bishop.

She told The Local that there are very few women priests practising in Austria as the Catholic Church is so powerful here that it can be a difficult life for someone who chooses to make a stand. “You have to be very strong,” she says. “Many women don’t want to be in the spotlight and don’t want to be attacked by the press.”

She says that in Austria and Germany she is now very well accepted and is asked to say mass and conduct weddings and funerals at churches and abbeys.

She has ordained women priests herself, mainly foreigners, although she won’t say where they are from for fear of exposing them.

Pope John Paul II, in 1994, told Catholics that not only were women excluded from the priesthood (because Jesus was a man and the reasoning is that the priest stands in the place of Jesus) but also that the question should not even be discussed.

However, Mayr-Lumetzberger believes that Pope Francis is very much in favour of women’s ordination. “So much has changed in the last 12 years, previously no one even spoke about women’s ordination and now it’s something that people are speaking about openly, all over the world.”

“I was ordained by Argentinian bishop Antonio Braschi, the Pope is Argentinian and I believe sympathetic, and there is a Spanish priest in favour of women’s ordination who is very close to the Pope.”

Mayr-Lumetzberger grew up in a Catholic family in Linz and as a girl, all she wanted was to be an altar server. Her uncle, high up in the local church, allowed her to do all the things the boys did, but she couldn't wear an altar server's vestment because she was female.

As a teenager, she became a nun, but her order wouldn't let her study theology, sending her off instead to train as a nursery teacher.

She left her order in 1981, but carried on teaching in a Catholic school and being involved in her local parish. Today she does faith-based work near her home in Pettenbach, Upper Austria, with the sick, bereaved, and those on the margins of society.

After leaving her order she met her husband, Michael, a historian. He had been married before and had four children. Their wedding was not in church - because he was divorced - but they had a party in the parish house afterwards.

She never lost her belief that God was calling her to the priesthood and continued teaching and working in parishes, and increasingly answering requests to lead liturgies herself. She even ran courses for women who felt called to the priesthood.

She further antagonised the Vatican by being consecrated a bishop. The ceremony took place in secret and she will not name the male bishops involved in her consecration in case they are disciplined by the Vatican.

Mayr-Lumetzberger says that she has a good relationship with the official church, and that she is in contact with the bishops in Austria who do not treat her as an outcast. “We have unofficial networks - many of my peers are now in top positions in the Roman Catholic Church.”

She is, she says, a feminist, but in “a friendly, non threatening way. I want to cooperate with men in a peaceful way but I believe women should be treated equally.”

Story continues below…

Photo: Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Austrian far-right leader brands Merkel 'dangerous'
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has branded Angela Merkel Europe's most dangerous politician.

Austria 'horror clown' attacks leave several injured
Clown performers are not happy about the negative media stories. Photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

Several people have been injured in attacks by masked assailants dressed as 'creepy clowns' in the lead-up to Halloween.

Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available