The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has begun an investigation of Maria 2.0, a group of German Catholic women.
At the same time, the CDF has decided to drop its centuries-old title of "Inquisition".
According to the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ),the reason for the investigation is connected with Maria 2.0’s protests against the Archbishop of Cologne’s refusal to publish an abuse report.
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki initially promised to publish the report he commissioned on the handling of abuse cases in the archdiocese of Cologne by an independent Munich law firm, but in the end refused to publish it.
In November last year about a dozen members of Maria 2.0 protested outside Cologne Cathedral and the archbishop’s residence against the archdiocese’s refusal to publish the abuse report and against the Church’s “abuse of power”.
A spokesman for the cardinal told FAZ that Woelki had not reported Maria 2.0 to the Vatican.
Maria 2.0 says it knows nothing about the Vatican investigation to date. “We were most surprised when we read about it,” Lisa Kötter, one of Maria 2.0’s initiator’s, told katholisch.de, the German bishops’ conference’s official website.
Maria 2.0 was founded in 2019 in Münster and is a loose association of several small groups scattered around Germany. It is in favour of women’s ordination and is supported on this point by the large German Catholic women’s associations. Maria 2.0 also insists on a gender equitable Church and unreserved reappraisal of the abuse scandal.
“They are part of the Church. They are our people,” German conference president Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg told the German journal Publik Forum last year.
The news emerged just a few days after Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the CDF, told Vatican News that the doctrinal office is no longer “the Inquisition”.
He said: “Our mission is to promote and protect the doctrine of the faith. It is a task that will always be necessary for the Church, which has the duty to transmit the teaching of the apostles to the next generation.”
Called the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition when it was instituted in 1542, the congregation was set up as a tribunal exclusively for cases of heresy and schism, but its responsibilities expanded to include “everything relating directly or indirectly to faith and morals”, according to the CDF website.
“The past of our congregation still weighs heavily, since we have not always acknowledged the profound changes that have taken place in the church and in the Roman Curia in recent times. We are no longer the Inquisition; the Index [of Forbidden Books] no longer exists,” Ladaria said.
“Certainly, the concrete way of carrying out this task has changed over the course of the centuries and we can imagine that it will continue to change,” the cardinal said. “But the concern for fidelity to the doctrine of the apostles will always remain.”