Catholic laity will move Church forward

The Catholic laity became more discerning about the quality of worship services and preaching during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, says the head of Germany’s Catholic bishop’s conference.

Speaking from his own experience, Bishop Georg Bätzing says he has noticed when he preaches “dialogically” (ie in a dialogue-like way), he gets a lot of feedback from laity.

“When I talk about my faith, my struggle to believe, then I get super feedback,” he says.

“Attention to the quality of sermons and services has seldom been as high as now… People immediately tell you what they liked and what they didn’t like. I see that as a challenge.”

“The faithful will not allow us simply to fall back into old patterns.”

Bätzing says he is now more supportive than ever of the German Synodal Path (or Procedure) for Church Reform.

He also has more concrete ideas about what changes are possible and how they can be achieved.

Focusing on what God means for today’s world, the Procedure has set up forums on four pivotal questions: power and checks and balances; sexual morality; priestly life; and the place of women in the Church.

These are the pivotal questions that determine whether people feel they belonged to the Church or not.

Bätzing says there’s a longstanding rift between the reality of people’s lives and Church teaching, especially as far as the question of sexuality and partnership is concerned.

Nonetheless, the Church has a great deal to offer Catholic laity here based on its image of God and what it means to be human,” he points out.

“But for many people the message we proclaim comes over as a type of moralizing that only forbids. People feel alienated.”

“…I sincerely hope that we will be able to further develop certain wordings on the Church’s teaching in the present Catechism.”

All resolutions the Procedure passes must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the bishops’ conference.

Asked if that doesn’t prove that there’s still an imbalance of power between priests and the laity, therefore how might Church reform move forward? Bätzing says he’s not sure.

When the Synod’s two years of discussions are over, he hopes bishops favouring reform will form coalitions on reform resolutions.

He also hopes that dioceses that have already begun implementing certain reforms will form networks.

These could include dioceses that allow other Christians to receive the Eucharist at Catholic liturgies or look for solutions to help Catholics whose relationships are not fully recognized by the Church.

“At the moment, we can only see the first tender sprouts of the new social form of the Church, but it is on these … we must focus. God’s self-revelation never stops, but the deposit of the faith remains the same… …the maturation of faith is a process that can never be declared completed.”


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,