Status: 02/23/2021 2:24 p.m.
For the first time, a woman takes over the management of the secretariat of the Catholic German Bishops’ Conference: the bishops elected the theologian Beate Gilles to the office at their spring plenary meeting.
The Catholic German Bishops’ Conference elected a woman as its general secretary for the first time at its spring assembly. On July 1, the 50-year-old theologian Beate Gilles will succeed Father Hans Langendörfer, who retired after 24 years. Gilles was previously the department head for children, youth and families in the Limburg diocese.
The chairman of the Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, spoke of a “strong sign that the bishops are fulfilling their promise to promote women in leadership positions”. Gilles is considered “a profound theologian, strongly networked in the various structures of the Catholic Church and equipped with the best organizational skills”, explained the Limburg bishop.
Gilles said she was looking forward to the new assignment. “It is a challenging but also exciting phase for the Catholic Church in Germany.” After the election she thanked the bishops for their trust and spoke of a “moving moment”. Gilles said she saw her election as a “great opportunity” to work on and shape the future of the church. She wants to approach her new task with “great respect”.
SWR-Religion expert Ulrich Pick speaks of the appointment of a general secretary as a “remarkable step”. In his view, the majority of bishops are making it clear that they want to break up old structures, that they consider reforms necessary and good. “You could even go a step further and say that the Bishops’ Conference elevates a woman to this post,” the majority says: We wanted to upgrade women and ultimately understand the concerns of Mary 2.0 – even if the question of the ordination of women can only be answered in Rome and not in Germany. ”
Gilles, born in 1970 in Hückeswagen in the Bergisches Land, studied Catholic religion and German at the University of Bonn from 1989 to 1995. In 2000 she did her doctorate with a thesis on liturgical studies on the broadcast of divine services in the media. From 2000 to 2010, Gilles was the director and managing director of the Katholisches Bildungswerk Stuttgart. Since 2010 she has been a department head in the Diocese of Limburg. She has also been the honorary federal chairwoman of IN VIA Germany, the Catholic association for girls and women’s social work, since 2020.