Synodal Path delegates debate sexuality and the place of women

German Catholic delegates for the Synodal Path have held their latest plenary assembly in five locations across the country.

Rather than meet as a single group in Frankfurt, the 230 delegates met in smaller groups due to the coronavirus pandemic.

About 40 people took part in the discussions in Berlin.

The Synodal Path (or journey) was first planned in 2019 as a response to the scandal of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Launched in January this year, the initiative is jointly organized by the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) and representatives of the laity, the ZDK.

Expectations at last Friday’s meetings were high, especially on the part of the laity.

The discussions focused on two of the four themes of the Synodal Path — “the place of women in the services and functions of the Church” and “love within sexuality”.

Participants were asked to react to proposals, such as:

Why not allow qualified lay people to deliver the homily during Mass and to provide baptisms and blessings for the sick?

Why not increase the already existing quotas for women in leadership positions in dioceses and general vicariates from 30 percent to 50 percent?

“I understand the request, but some of these proposals do not depend on us but on the universal Church,” Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr said at the Berlin meeting.

Maria Flachsbarth, a Christian Democrat and member of parliament, said: “This kind of debate does not exist in any other part of our society. If we want the Catholic Church to remain relevant, we must finally act.”

The issue of sexuality – within a committed partnership, casual sexual activity, before marriage or between people of the same sex – was also debated.

“The Church has been silent for too long on these subjects,” theologian Eberhard Tiefensee said.

“It should recognize that it has no business in people’s bedrooms.”

Franziska Kleiner of the German Catholic Youth Organization has the opposite view to Tiefensee. She wants more guidelines from the Church, especially for “young people who change partners” on a regular basis.

At the end of the discussions, Reinhard Hauket, who is the auxiliary bishop of Erfurt, commented on the divergence of opinion.

“On some points, shared positions will be possible, but on others I fear that some participants will be disappointed at the end of the process.”

The Synodal Path’s working groups have until February to formulate amended texts for participants to vote on.

The final objective is to present concrete proposals to the Bishops’ Conference and to Rome in 2022.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,