Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, regarded as a likely successor to Angela Merkel, accepted it would be an 'immense break' with tradition

A Catholic politician who is being touted as Angela Merkel’s successor has said she hopes for the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was appointed general-secretary of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Germany’s ruling party, in February, said it was “perfectly clear” that it would be an “immense break” with tradition, but argued that “the Catholic Church would not perish”.

“I wish that the priestly ordination [of women] would come,” she told Christ & Welt, a supplement of Die Zeit, a German newspaper.

She said she could have imagined herself as a priest, but knew it was impossible. A more realistic goal, she suggested, was female deacons. “What do women not bring with them, except that they are women?” she said. “What are they missing, that they can not receive this consecration? That they are not allowed to become deaconesses? Apart from the fact that they are women, nobody could answer me that positively!

Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is a member of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), an influential lay group, stressed the importance of women in the Church, saying that if you “close your eyes and think away all the women”, it would leave “only a small remnant”. She suggested quotas for women in leadership positions. “Women determine the daily work in the church, which must also be reflected in offices,” she said.

“Much of what we see today as a set of rules has evolved over the centuries, and was shaped by institutions, not by Jesus,” she said.

Kramp-Karrenbauer’s appointment as CDU general-secretary made her the frontrunner to succeed Merkel. It is the position Merkel held before becoming German Chancellor.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as “Mini-Merkel” because she shares the current leader’s understated style, is from the predominantly Catholic state of Saarland on the western edge of Germany. She is regarded as a centrist who is conservative on social issues (she spoke against the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2015) but left-wing on economics (she supported a rise in the top band of income tax).