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24th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlavadok-revuecdfEmerging producersInspiration Forum

Various doctrines have been stipulated by the Catholic Church officials relating to the role of women in society. They are often in line with the conservative tradition and out of sync with the public opinion. However, calls for change are growing strong inside the Catholic Church – an institution characterized by striking inequality between men and women. What is the role of women in the context of religion and how to rethink the traditional and predominant power structures? How is this situation viewed by women who actively participate in the work of the Church? How do they reflect the experience of other Christian doctrines where women can become parish priests and take other positions in the Church hierarchy?

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sunday 1. 11.
18.30–19.30 | Equality in the Pews

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Veronika Sedláčková (CZ)

Czech journalist. Veronika worked for 11 years at Czech Television as an editor and presenter. After a short detour into commercial media, she headed for public radio, where she has been working for 13 years. She moderates various debate programs, at present Interview Plus and Vertikál. She regularly tapes longer journalistic interviews on current topics for TV NOE and also works with non-profit organizations and civic associations, especially on the issues of education and social affairs.

How would you describe your work and your goals in relation to the transformation of the church in the Czech Republic?
I deal with ecclesiastical topics from time to time on Czech Radio and on TV NOE. I especially try to raise awareness in the Czech public of the process of change as well, a process we can observe especially in neighboring Germany. Although religious and ecclesiastical issues are not the primary topics of my journalistic work, I consider it important not only for people organized in churches, but also for society as a whole. In the Czech Republic, the need for reform, especially of the Roman Catholic Church (to which I belong), is discussed only carefully and lightly, especially in intellectual circles. It also encounters stiff resistance from time to time. Nevertheless, I think that there is no greater challenge in this area than the effort to fight clericalism, as well as the greater involvement of lay people. The integration of women into the life and organization of the Church is also particularly important.

What do you consider important in the light of the current situation and what issues do you think we, as a society, should take seriously?
We live in a time that is unstable and very fragile due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. We are seeing a huge crisis of public confidence in state and public institutions, including growing scepticism about the work of journalists. This is further enhanced by disinformation websites. It’s so hard to even imagine how the experience we’re going through will affect our existence in the future. An overloaded and tragically underfunded health care system, economic problems currently affecting the weakest sectors of society (including children from socially disadvantaged families, who often lose all contact with their school due to distance learning) - this is all now cause for concern. The task of those who influence public opinion is, first and foremost, to regain confidence in the common cause, in democratic institutions and in society in general, whether it's the men and women in politics, the media, or even church circles. I consider working to deepen the sense of belonging, solidarity and cooperation to be the most important task today. It affects all areas of life, and in a society as divided as ours, we may run this race for many years.

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Petr Vizina (CZ)

Majored in theology and applied ethics at KTF UK and is currently working in media ethics. He writes and records interviews for Aktuálně.cz and Czech Radio. He was a member of the editorial offices of Lidové noviny and Hospodářské noviny and led the culture editorial board at Czech Television for seven years.

How would you describe your work and goals with regard to transformation of the Church in the Czech Republic?
In my opinion, the hot topic of today is the conflict of liberal and conservative thoughts and ideas, and it would be foolish to think that this conflict is in any way secular. Proponents of conservative thinking should be well articulated and informed on liberalism while liberals should look for similar qualities in their opponents. The media can either help clarify their political positions and opinions — after all, fair is fair — or they can choose to do the opposite and create obscurity in favour of their own personal favourites. I'm for the former.

What do you consider to be important in light of the current situation and what issues do you think we, as a society, should take seriously?
I think that the fundamental issues of today are justice and human dignity; that is, housing, wages, health care, and education. But first, the question is whether we can manage to talk to each other at all or whether we’ve already ruined politics forever.

What resonated with you the most from this year's literature and artistic releases?
Often, these are topics "embedded" in a different time and context, a recent example being the extensive work of German historian Volker Mohn on Nazi cultural policy during the Protectorate or Kundera's playful farewell to writing with his book The Festival of Insignificance.

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Once Upon a Time in Poland (Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, 2020)

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If you want to delve deeper into this topic, we offer you a selection of the most interesting sources that we came across while thinking through the program of this year's Inspiration Forum.


The German Catholic women's movement Maria 2.0 first received widespread coverage back in the spring of 2019, when its members started a boycott that included halting the volunteer work that women were doing within churches. As a result, the movement got the attention of Catholics across Germany as well as the European Catholic media. Their goal is to reform the Catholic Church so that, among other things, it would allow women to participate within all roles of the Church and force the Church to take more drastic steps against sexual abusers.

“It began in January 2019, in a small parish in the northwestern city of Münster, where women who felt that for too long they had been marginalized within the church went on what they called a church "strike." What that meant in practice is that they refused to enter the church building, no longer helped in the sacristy, and eventually began praying together outside the church itself. It was not long before Lisa Kötter, one of the founders of the movement, was getting inquiries from all over Germany, as well as from Austria and Switzerland.”



France is also having a public debate over the inclusion of women within the Catholic Church. Seven prominent French Catholic women decided to apply for positions at the Apostolic Nunciature in Paris which are, in the current structure of the Catholic Church, strictly reserved for men. The specific positions in question are those of deacon, lay preacher, priest, bishop and the nuncio. The Church is increasingly having to answer questions about the tireless (and often overlooked) work women put into maintaining the Church, as well as questions about the declining numbers of nuns in response to the numerous cases of domestic and sexual violence. The French academic Anne Soupa, who applied to be a bishop and who is a long-term critic of the low status of women within the Church, raised the question: "Currently, we imagine that all bishops look a certain way. But does a bishop really need to be just a single, elderly man dressed in black?”

“But some say [the Pope’s] actions barely begin to tackle gender discrimination in the church. In launching her campaign, Soupa said on Twitter: “To exclude half of humanity is not only contrary to the message of Jesus Christ, but is also harmful to the church, which is thus maintained in an environment that is conducive to abuse.”



Another debate that often goes hand in hand with that of women's status within the Church is that of allowing married men to become ordained into the lower rungs of the Church, which would represent a significant shift in the idea of celibacy. Both these questions were recently raised by a proposal put forward by two hundred bishops from the South American Amazonian region, which is currently dealing with a lack of priests, as a result of which some religious locals have to wait months for their confession. The Pope, however, did not offer a direct answer in the Querida Amazonia (Dear Amazon) document published earlier this year, dodging the question of allowing women to be ordained as deacons. In an older column of his, Matěj Senft commented upon the stances that Popes Francis and John Paul II took towards the role of women in the church.

“In villages and smaller towns, it's common practice that women work for free or, if they are paid, the amount is so small that not even a hermit could live off of it. At the same time, the Czech Catholic Church made 12 million CZK [roughly half a million dollars] on the stock market last year. Nevertheless, there still aren’t enough resources to pay the women who keep its churches running. At the same time, though, the Church spends money on buying and blessing luxurious cars for Cardinal Dominik Duka.”

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Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Creative Europe
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Česká televize
Český rozhlas