Scandinavia’s Catholic bishops let rip at Germans

Scandinavia’s Catholic bishops and church leaders (pictured) have let their German confreres know they don’t think much of the German Synodal Way.

In their March 9 letter to the German bishops’ conference, the Nordic bishops said they appreciated that there was a “palpable need for change” in Germany. However, the issues addressed were not a “purely German” concern, they added.

They are especially concerned about “the direction, the methodology and the substance” of the Synodal Way reform consultations in Germany.

While they acknowledge Germany’s desire to address the wounds caused by clergy sexual abuse and to call for a “radical conversion” of the church, they can’t alter the aspects of the faith “that contain unchangeable parts of the Church’s teaching,” they said.

The “unchangeable parts” they refer to concern the Synodal Way participants’ call for the abolition of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church, the ordination of women priests, same-sex blessings, and changes to Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

True church reform had always consisted of “defending, explaining and putting into credible practice Catholic teaching based on divine revelation and authentic tradition,” the Scandinavian bishops wrote.

These unchangeable parts are not about “following the spirit of the times.

“Throughout the world, a number of Catholics ask questions about the lifestyle and formation of priests, the role of women in the Church, the range of views on human sexuality etc,” the Nordic bishops wrote.

“In the legitimate search for answers to the questions of our time, we must nonetheless respect boundaries set by topics that stand for unchangeable aspects of the Church’s teaching.”

“It has ever been the case that true reforms in the Church have set out from Catholic teaching founded on divine Revelation and authentic Tradition, to defend it, expound it and translate it credibly into lived life — not from capitulation to the Zeitgeist. How fickle the Zeitgeist is, is something we verify on a daily basis.”

The Scandinavians also warned their German confreres against “turning the church into a project, into an object of our actions through process-oriented thinking and structural change.”

All Catholics’ views should also be listened to carefully, they added – not just those that answer questionnaires.

“The global synodal process has aroused great expectations. We all hope for a revitalisation of Catholic life and of the Church’s mission. However, there is a risk that we, in so far as we stay enclosed within paradigms of process thinking and structural change, end up conceiving of the Church as a project, the object of our agency.”

They said that the image of the Church as the People of God on pilgrimage should be complemented by other images drawn from Catholic tradition, especially the Church as “a mystery of communion.”

Bishop Georg Baetzing, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, said on the criticism of the Synodal Way: “Such things like open letters irritate me, but of course we respond – in an objective way.”


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News category: Palmerston, World.

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