by Joanna Moorhead CATHOLIC women's organisations in the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol have published a joint statement calling for equality and inclusion in church power structures.
The statement, entitled "Women in the Church", says women should be able to contribute their own special gifts and talents at all levels of the church on an equal footing with men. It demands a fundamental reassessment of the nature of women so that "the high estimation of motherhood does not limit women to finding their sole, recognisable fulfulment as mothers".
The organisations, which were formerly more traditional Catholic women's leagues before undergoing a radical period of reform, also ask for a new approach to understanding the Bible, enabling it to be seen "as a means of liberation and salvation and not an instrument misused to dominate women".
Other demands are for a reopening of the debate on women's ordination; for women theologians to be given equal consideration when they apply for teaching posts; and for inclusive language in the liturgy.
"A one-sided male-orientated church can only change through patient, constant effort on a broad basis," the statement says.