Wind of schism in the German Church. The most reactionary sector of the Vatican curia and Germany’s most ultra-Orthodox bishops have joined forces to investigate the open development of the German church, one of the most advanced in the world, over its allegedly unshakable doctrines such as the blessing of homosexuals. but raises questions. couple. , Communion for the divorced or a progressive democratization in the Church.
An ‘Eclare’ of the Archbishops in opposition to the Pope meets in Madrid
This development—his ‘Synod tract’—generated a duel with practically all German bishops and laymen, including the three powerful Vatican cardinals (who, moreover, without evidence, claim the papal support behind them). In 2019, he launched a process of dialogue and consultation for a more participatory, open Church that responds to the challenges of today, in line with the synod convened by Francis.
A reactionary section of the German episcopate succeeded in having Rome once again delegitimize the liturgical body of the Church of Germany. It followed a controversial trip by German bishops to Rome last November where they met with Pope Francis. But, after speaking with Bergoglio, he was later faced with a trap of sorts by the Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith, Luis Ladaria, and the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, Marc Ouellet. . A conservative trio.
The visit thus ended without agreement as the Kuriels, i.e. conservatives, asked for the German Synodal tract to be “suspended”, while the bishop replied that the process was still open, and there was no reason to stop it.
The recent new Vatican refusal towards the German path blocked any possibility of an agreement, waiting for Francisco to calm the storm or pronounce definitively.
Are German bishops obliged to participate in the synodal path? This was the formal question posed in December by Bishop Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne; Bertram Meier, from Augsburg; Stefan Oster from Passau; Rudolf Vorderholzer, from Regensburg, and Gregor Maria Hanke, from Eichstätt, before the Holy See. There is no room for doubt in the joint response of Cardinals Parolin, Ladaria and Ouellet on 16 January: “Neither the Synodal tract, nor the bodies it established, nor the Episcopal Conferences have the right to establish a ‘Synodal Council’ at the national level.” The potential is. Diocesan or Parish level”. Blockade for the German opening.
One of the instigators, Cardinal Woelki, whose diocese is under investigation for abuse and lack of precision when managing matters of economics, and who was away for half a year in 2022, welcomed the curia’s letter. did. The cardinal acknowledged in statements to the German press that he had sought clarification from Rome on whether bishops who opposed the measure would be obliged to participate in the said process. However he acknowledged that the reforms proposed by the German Church were “sensible and necessary” although “only under certain conditions.”
What does the Pope say?
On the other hand, the bulk of the German Episcopate, whose president, Georg Batzing, reacted by publishing the note by Parolin, Ladaria and Ouellet, assuring that “the Synodal Council will proceed in accordance with the mandate contained within the current canon law.”
There is unease within the German church over the initiative by the five bishops, but also over the reaction of three members of Vatican departments, with whom the plenary session of German bishops held a tense meeting in Rome last November.
And it is that both Parolin and, especially, Ladaria and Ouellet, are against the initial steps taken by the ‘German Synodal Path’. And the answers to some “legitimate and necessary questions” from these five bishops, with the “express knowledge and approval” of Pope Francis, only deepen the existing divide between those who want greater freedom of opinion, and those who believe that it means to break the union.
According to the Vatican letter, the bishops had asked whether they were obliged or authorized to participate in the synodal committee, as the Holy See had made it clear last June that the forum had “the power to adopt bishops and the faithful”. has no power to commit”. new forms of government and new principles and moral inclinations”.
The letter from Ladaria, Ouellet and Parolin states that the Synodal Council appears to be “above the authority of each bishop in his diocese”, and that they are “open to continuing the more intensive dialogue” that has already begun during the visit. Already happened. Threshold for.
In response, Batzing called the Vatican’s concern “unfounded”. The president of the German bishops said, “The Holy See sees the danger of weakening the episcopal office, although I perceive the synodal consultation as a strengthening of this office,” adding that the debate with Rome “reasonably” Will start again. time “.
Batzing also revealed his astonishment that the Vatican spoke of a “Synodal Council”, even though the German bishops “have yet to talk with Rome about the content and objectives of synodal consultations at all levels in our country’s Church”. not enabled”.
“It is not primarily a question of dogmatic questions, but questions of synodal culture that reside in deliberation and joint decision-making. No one questions the authority of the bishop.”
“We will accept the invitation contained in the letter to speak with Rome in a timely manner.” responsibility. We cannot delegate these experiences. For this reason, I am grateful that a large part of the Permanent Council has reaffirmed its willingness to apply the Synodal Committee’s decision to the Synodal Committee and to begin consultations.”
Most reform-minded German bishops justified their participation in the “Synodal Way” and the resulting loss of power by saying that it was an expression of their episcopal authority to voluntarily give up power, an argument included in the Vatican’s arguments. was not. For now, the crisis does not seem to be ending.