German “synodal way” pushes Catholic teaching

National Catholic Reporter

The German “Synodal Way,” conference has approved a draft document that appears to be at odds with Catholic teaching on sexual morality.

Called “Living in Successful Relationships – Living Love in Sexuality and Partnership,” Vatican News says the draft document clearly rejects “conversion therapies for homosexuals”, pleads on behalf of “homosexual partnerships and remarried divorcees ‘to be able to see themselves under the blessing of God expressly granted by the church’”.

It also says the document “moves away from a radical condemnation of masturbation”.

The German Synodal Way conference approved the draft in a 168 to 28, vote with five abstentions. Sixty-nine Synodal Assembly members are German bishops, 37 are elected representatives of German priests and religious, while 69 are members of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK).

The preamble to the draft document asserts:

  • “The Church’s sexual ethics has also favored the crimes of sexual abuse in the Church. We sincerely ask for forgiveness of all people who have suffered from the effects of church teaching on sexuality”.

The body of the document says:

  • “Knowledge of the human sciences” should be the basis for ensuring “a change in the teaching and practice of the Church in dealing with human sexuality.” The document suggests different forms of “accentuation” or emphasis, rather than a change in doctrinal content.

Concerning the Church’s condemnation of contraception and insistence in affirming the procreative function of the sexual act:

  • Most people see the Church’s teaching on the immorality of contraception as “a misunderstanding of the human significance of human sexuality for every person and as an implausible imposition”.
  • Masturbation opens “the possibility of discovering and experiencing oneself physically” and experiencing “pleasure, identity and transcendence”.
  • Homosexual relationships “should always be recognized without reservation” if they are characterized by “love and compassion.”
  • Homosexual orientation should not be a “basis for exclusion” from ordination to the clergy; homosexuality “is not a risk factor for sexual abuse,” nor an illness.
  • Sacramental marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The document remains in draft form and must be approved a second time when the Synodal Way meets again in early 2022 before it is made official. It will then be presented to the Vatican for approval.

The draft’s endorsement of blessing homosexual unions goes against warnings from Pope Francis and the Vatican against radical departures from Catholic doctrine.

It appears to directly contradict a recent declaration by the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith repudiating blessings of homosexual unions and other “partnerships” involving extra-marital sexual activity. Francis approved the declaration.

There seems little concern for potential conflict with the Vatican, with Bishop Georg Bätzing being quoted as saying: “There were texts debated that are not just texts, but dreams put into words about how we want to change the church in Germany: a church that is participatory, gender-equitable, and journeys with people.”

He reportedly lashed out at the Vatican, decrying “warning words or clarifications from the Roman Curia on questions that have long been answered in our enlightened and freedom-loving society,”.

Prohibiting blessing homosexual unions had provoked “indignation and head-shaking among many people,” he said.



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