Uta Ranke-Heinemann had doubts about the Trinity of God and the redemption of Christ on the cross. Now the militant theologian has died in Essen.
Essen (AP) – She was the world’s first female professor of Catholic theology and quickly became a loud critic of the Roman Catholic Church: Uta Ranke-Heinemann, the eldest daughter of former Federal President Gustav Heinemann, is dead.
She died on Thursday morning at the age of 93 in Essen, her son Andreas Ranke announced to the German news agency. She fell asleep peacefully in front of relatives.
In 1945 she was the only girl to attend the Burggymnasium in Essen, where she graduated from high school. She studied Protestant Theology. In 1953, seeking greater religious tolerance, she converted to Catholicism, received her doctorate, and became the first female Catholic theology professor. “But I went from bad to worse with the Catholics,” she said later.
The peace activist soon ran into conflicts with the official church in the dispute over the papal ban on contraception. Ranke-Heinemann called the fact that African women were threatened with hell for using a condom to have sex with their HIV-infected husbands as a “fatal deception on humanity”.
In 1999, the pacifist was persuaded by Gregor Gysi in her home kitchen to run for left-wing predecessor PDS in the federal presidential election, which was hopeless from the start. Johannes Rau (SPD) has won the elections.
The break with the church came in 1987 after Ranke-Heinemann contradicted the church dogma of the Virgin Birth. She did not want Mary’s virginity to be taken literally, but rather as “models of the imagination at the time”. The then Essen bishop Franz Hengsbach withdrew her education license. She lost her chair in Essen, but was given a church-independent chair for religious history.
At the same time Ranke-Heinemann wrote about religion and the church. In particular, ‘Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’ on the sexual morality of the church topped the bestseller lists in several countries. Her most important theological work is “No and Amen”, to which she later subtitled “My Farewell to Traditional Christianity”. The only positive thing that remained of Christianity was the “hope of a reunion with the beloved dead,” she wrote in it.
Ranke-Heinemann did not deviate from her criticism of the church later either. The election of her former fellow student Joseph Ratzinger as pope did not change this. “I am disappointed,” she said a year after Benedict XVI took office. “I was hoping he would finally get rid of celibacy.”
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