Cardinal Kasper ‘very worried’ about German Church’s ‘Synodal Way’

Cardinal Kasper very worried

An influential theologian considered to be close to Pope Francis said he is “very worried” about the German Catholic Church’s controversial “Synodal Way.”

Cardinal Walter Kasper the former head of the Vatican’s department for Christian unity said in a June 8 interview with the Passauer Bistumsblatt that he hoped the prayers of faithful Catholics could serve as a corrective.

The 88-year-old German cardinal said: “I have not yet given up hope that the prayers of many faithful Catholics will help to steer the Synodal Way in Germany on Catholic tracks.”

“It is neither a synod nor a mere dialogue process,” said the cardinal. “It goes beyond my imagination that demands such as the abolition of celibacy and the ordination of women to the priesthood could end up with a two-thirds majority in the bishops’ conference or that they could reach a consensus in the universal Church.”

The Synodal Way is a multi-year process bringing together bishops and laypeople to discuss four main topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.

The German bishops initially said that the process would end with a series of “binding” votes. This has raised concerns at the Vatican that the resolutions might challenge the Church’s teaching and discipline.

Kasper told the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Passau that the Synodal Way’s organizers should have paid greater attention to Pope Francis’ 2019 letter to the German Church.

In the letter, the pope warned German Catholics not to succumb to a particular “temptation.”

He wrote: “At the basis of this temptation, there is the belief that the best response to the many problems and shortcomings that exist is to reorganize things, change them and ‘put them back together’ to bring order and make ecclesial life easier by adapting it to the current logic or that of a particular group.”

Kasper asked: “Why did the Synodal Way not take Pope Francis’ letter more seriously and, as befits a synod, consider the critical questions in the light of the Gospel?”

The theologian, who served as bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart from 1989 to 1999, said that renewal could only come from an inner growth of faith, hope, and love.

Commenting on the Vatican’s recent invitation to all Catholic dioceses to take part in the forthcoming synod on synodality, Kasper emphasized that one could “not reinvent the Church,” but rather contribute to renewing it in the Holy Spirit.

He said: “Synods are not a parliament, not a ‘paper factory’ that draws up long papers that hardly anyone reads afterwards, nor a church regiment that says where to go.”

“Synods are gatherings in which, in crisis situations, the bishop, his presbyterate, and the faithful face the signs of the times together, look to the Gospel, and listen to what the Holy Spirit says to the congregations in prayer and in exchange with one another.”


Catholic News Agency

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