German bishops’ president responds to letter warning of risk of schism in synodal path – Catholic World Report

Bishop Georg Bätzing at the spring meeting of the German bishops in February 2021. Credit: Sascha Steinbach/epa pool.

Limburg, Germany, April 16, 2022 / 12:40 p.m. (CNA).

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the German bishops’ conference, responded to a letter Thursday warning that the country’s synodal path could lead to schism by defending the process as a response to abuses in the Church.

The Synodal Path is our attempt in Germany to confront the systemic causes of abuse and its cover-up that have caused untold suffering to so many in and across the Church,” Bishop Bätzing wrote April 14 to Bishop Samuel Aquila of Denver. . The letter from the German bishop was published April 16 on the website of the German bishops’ conference.

More than 80 bishops around the world signed an April 11 open letter sent by Bishop Aquila that warned that sweeping changes in Church teaching advocated through the synodal way could lead to schism.

The “Synodal Path” is a process that brings together German laity and Catholic bishops to discuss four major topics: how power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women. When the German bishops initiated the process, they first said the deliberations would be “binding” on the German Church, prompting an intervention from the Vatican which rejected such claims.

The synodal assembly voted in favor of documents calling for the priestly ordination of the blessings of homosexual women and for changes in the teaching on homosexual acts.

Bishop Bätzing wrote in his response to Bishop Aquila’s concerns that abuses in the Church had hampered his witness, and that “the synodal path is therefore also our attempt to make a credible proclamation of the Good News possible again.”

“This occasion and this context are particularly important to us, but unfortunately this is not mentioned at all in your letter,” he charged.

The recent open letter referred to Archbishop Aquila’s May 2021 letter of concern regarding the synodal path, in which he noted that the German synodal assembly was right to express distress over scandals and abuse cover-ups. sex of the clergy. The fundamental text of the synod is right to say that these scandals have generated “a real crisis of credibility for the Church”, wrote Bishop Aquila.

The abuse scandal must have consequences for the “structures” of the Church, Bishop Bätzing continued. He characterized the recent open letter as using “euphemistic embellishments” that “don’t really help” the problem.

He called the “accusations” made in the letter “surprising” and said no justification had been made.

“I can reassure you with an open heart: these fears regarding the synodal path of the Catholic Church in Germany are unfounded,” Bishop Bätzing wrote.

“Thus, the synodal path in no way undermines the authority of the Church, including that of Pope Francis, as you write.”

“I was able to speak to the Holy Father several times about the synodal journey,” the German bishop said. “In his letter to the pilgrim people of God in Germany, he specifically asked us to walk the path as a search for ‘a bold response to the current situation’ and at the same time as a spiritual path, asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. .”

Pope Francis sent a 19-page letter to German Catholics in June 2019, urging them to focus on evangelism in the face of “the growing erosion and deterioration of the faith”.

Bishop Bätzing dismissed the observation that the synodal path is guided by “contemporary sociological and political analysis, including gender, ideologies,” saying it is instead guided by Scripture, Tradition, the Magisterium , theology, the meaning of the faithful and ‘the signs of the times interpreted in the light of the Gospel.

“As we approach the Holy Days together,” the German bishop concluded, “I assure you that the Catholics of Germany, listening to the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also Lord of history, with the The Church all over the world, as God’s pilgrim people, will also walk their way through this time – united in the Easter hope that it awaits them at the end of time.


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