German Catholic bishops fail to update sex teachings after clash with Pope Francis

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After months of controversy, Germany’s progressive bishops have failed to pass a document updating their teachings on sex, gender and masturbation.

The document, “Living in Successful Relationships,” was rejected by the bishops. The German prelates were strongly pressured by the Vatican to abandon the proposed changes.

In the final vote, 33 bishops voted for adoption of the document, 22 voted against.

The synod requires a two-thirds majority to adopt the document.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, leaves at the end of a press briefing during a four-day summit on sexual abuse convened by Pope Francis in Rome, Italy, February 23, 2019.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, file)

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The failure to change the church’s teaching caused emotional outbursts among some synod attendees. Some have accused the bishops of willfully remaining silent before the vote. Others expressed that they felt unable to speak during the debate on the document.

Some bishops have threatened to present the failed synod document to Pope Francis in Rome, refusing to back down from drastic reforms.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and President of the German Episcopal Conference, celebrates the opening mass of the conference in the cathedral on September 25, 2018, in Fulda, western Germany.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and President of the German Episcopal Conference, celebrates the opening mass of the conference in the cathedral on September 25, 2018, in Fulda, western Germany.
(Arne Dedert/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)

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“We will take it to the level of the universal Church when we are in Rome in November for the ad limina visit when we start preparing for the World Synod with the continental episcopal conferences in January,” Bishop Georg Bätzing said.

However, attempts to involve the pope in the decision are almost certainly doomed to failure, as Pope Francis has already sternly warned the German Church that adopting teachings contrary to the Catholic Church would put it in jeopardy. danger of drifting away from communion.

The pope had previously expressed concern for the laity and clergy of Germany if their leaders broke with the teaching of the established church, saying that Catholics would be negatively affected by the many proposed changes to the church pushed by Cardinal Reinhard Marx and other German liberal leaders in their “synodal path”.

Pope Francis addresses cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican during a mass on August 30, 2022.

Pope Francis addresses cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican during a mass on August 30, 2022.
(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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“In order to protect the freedom of the people of God and the exercise of the episcopal ministry, it seems necessary to specify that the “Synodal Way” in Germany does not have the power to compel the bishops and the faithful to adopt new ways of governance and new approaches to doctrine and morals,” the Holy See statement said.

The “synodal way” – sometimes called the “synodal way” – is a controversial religious committee in Germany. The synod, organized by the German Bishops’ Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics, aims to discuss and address four loose topics: sexual ethics, the structure of church governance, the role of women in the church and the vocation of the priesthood.

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“Prior to an agreement at the level of the universal Church, it would not be permitted to initiate new structures or official doctrines in the dioceses, which would represent a wound to ecclesial communion and a threat to the unity of the Church. “, said the Pope. Francis warned the synod.

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