Catholic Church: Irme Stetter-Karp becomes the new ZdK President
Status: 19.11.2021 4:04 p.m.
The Central Committee of German Catholics has a new chairwoman: Irme Stetter-Karp. The 65-year-old is the second woman to head the organization. Stetter-Karp sees an “immense reform backlog” in the Catholic Church.
The social scientist Irme Stetter-Karp becomes the new President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK). The general assembly of the most important Catholic lay organization elected the 65-year-old from Baden-Württemberg. She will succeed Thomas Sternberg, who stopped running after six years. Stetter-Karp is currently Vice President of the German Caritas Association.
Ulrich Hemel, President of the Association of Catholic Entrepreneurs, also applied. 149 out of 190 participants voted for Stetter-Karp and 41 for Hemel. “I will really do it with passion,” said Stetter-Karp. After the CDU politician Rita Waschbüsch, who headed the ZdK from 1988 to 1997, she is the second woman to head the organization.
Stetter-Karp sees “immense reform backlog”
The change in leadership comes at a critical time. Together with the German Bishops’ Conference, the ZdK organizes the reform process of the Catholic Church, the so-called Synodal Way. It should help to slow down the decline in membership and to overcome the loss of trust after scandals about sexual abuse by priests.
At a press conference after the election, Stetter-Karp demanded that the ZdK should not allow itself to be completely consumed by internal church debates. “We cannot afford to be socially marginalized,” she said. “For the credibility of our church it cannot be denied that we need the Synodal Way.” There has been an “immense reform backlog” in the church for 50 years. If the reforms succeed, the church has the chance to rebuild lost trust.
Stetter-Karp has already acted as a delegate and co-moderator of the assembly of the Synodal Way. She served the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart for decades. There she headed the main Caritas department until she retired at the end of September 2020. The Central Committee is the union of representatives of the diocesan councils as well as other representatives and personalities.