The celibate priesthood is inscribed in a sacralized hierarchical structure, which in practice focuses less and less on the congregation and more and more on the self-preservation of this system. The #JuniaInitiative observes these developments with concern. The people behind the Initiative perceive a sacramental hunger in congregations, communities and institutions and are concerned that precious experiences of the divine presence are being abandoned in favor of the preservation of the system. It wants to find a way beyond the linking of ministry, consecration, power and gender, for the disastrous consequences of this linkage have become increasingly apparent in recent years.
Taking into account concrete pastoral relationships and with a view to the people who entrust themselves to pastoral care, the #JuniaInitiative works on alternatives that focus on the encounter and relationship with the other person and with God. With the concept of “sacramental mission”, it not only introduces new terminology, but wants to lay the foundation for a sustainable and credible Church – a Church which nourishes itself from the sacraments as the living presence of God in our lives, and a Church which consequently puts herself once again more clearly at the service of humanity.
The Roman Catholic Church today consecrates men who commit themselves to a celibate life, and then places them in the service of the Church as pastors and pastoral workers. Offices are staffed from a limited pool of people. If there is a lack of celibate men, offices are left vacant or are filled by people whose actions are only partially recognized by the church leadership. The proposal of a sacramental mission reverses this thinking. The focus is not on consecrated men, but on parishes and communities: these need and desire parish leadership, proclamation and the celebration of sacraments by proven pastoral workers.
Many already experience Christ acting through their pastoral workers so that sacramental action happens in all pastoral activities: in the celebration of the sacraments, but also in their pastoral relationship with the people entrusted to them, in leadership tasks and in proclamation. Today this sacramental action is not officially recognised by the official Church in the form of a corresponding ordination.
People in parishes, communities and institutions already experience this action as sacramental. They entrust themselves to pastoral workers because they are trustworthy and competent and their authority is perceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. They pray with them and they ask for the celebration of the sacraments. Many communities of believers today are prepared to send pastors for sacramental ministry. The #JuniaInitiative establishes networks with pastors who are ready for sacramental mission and with congregations and communities who are ready to send them. The #JuniaInitiative makes visible to parishes, bishops and national churches that there are long-established pastoral workers who are ready for and living a sacramental mission. The time is ripe to acknowledge the diversity of sacramental ministry and long-established practice. In this way, people in the parishes are encouraged to take new paths within our Church with her histories and traditions.
The #JuniaInitiative proposes that in future parishes and communities, together with bishops and church leaders, commission people to the sacramental ministry. In the tradition of the early church, ordination (German: Beauftragung) takes place through the laying on of hands. Church leadership and people from congregations, communities and institutions together lay hands on pastors and commission them to sacramental ministry.
As already emphasized several times, it is not the goal to answer all open questions at once, but rather to stimulate creative theological discussion. During the Junia Year this will continue on this website and in theological discourse.
On Sunday, May 16, 2021, we will meet in different places and at
different times. We – women* who are called and prepared to be
ordained to sacramental service. We – all who support these
women*. We gather – each in our own places, in local churches
and in our communities.
On the eve of the Feast of St. Junia 2021 we come together for
prayer. The way to live our vocation is first an inner way, a
spiritual way. We connect with one another and with the power
of the Holy Spirit, the source and foundation of our being and our
mission. From there grows the motivation to commit ourselves to
our vocation publicly within the church: a vocation we
understand to be in the service of humanity and of our church