At Easter, Austria’s bishops remembered the “forgotten” women
On Easter morning women regained the central role which the Church had forgotten about for centuries. The comments the Archbishop of Vienna made in the homily he pronounced during the Easter Mass celebration at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, constituted a kind of unreserved self-criticism.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn recalled the role of women as described in the Gospel’s Easter stories: “it was women who first found the empty tomb but we have always forgotten about them, we men of the Church.” And yet it was on that very Easter morning that women earned themselves a central place in the history of salvation, a history which should make us feel grateful towards these women: “gratitude for their testimony, gratitude for their loyalty and love for Jesus.”
“We men can sometimes be very unfair,” the Archbishop said, recalling the many women who accompanied Jesus through the streets of Galilee and that the Gospel stories are full of female figures that have played important roles, but “none of these women has ever been canonized,” he regretted.
And yet Easter is a time of personal encounter with Jesus Christ, which is exactly what happened to Mary Magdalene who met him in person because Christ called her by her name, as he still does today with each individual. “Jesus does not make a grand appearance, he does not return with full honours as the Son of God: he presents himself in person, discretely, just as he did to Mary Magdalene who was the first witness of the Risen Christ and I do not believe it was by chance.”
On Holy Saturday the Bishop of Innsbruck, Manfred Scheuer, also spoke about the importance of women in Church life, in an interview with Tiroler Tageszeitung that covered a wide range of topics from euthanasia to providing shelter for an ever-growing number of refugees. The central role women play in the transmission of the faith is undeniable; in fact, they represent one of the pillars of the Austrian Church. “Religion is an integral part of life in our country,” the Bishop said. “But when I look at Church life today and the transmission of the faith within the family, I see that it is mainly women transmitting it and this is also the case in parishes and religious education and catechesis. And yet we often forget about this.”

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