Germans respond to Synodal Way criticisms

Synodal Way criticisms

The chairman of Germany’s Catholic bishops’ conference has responded to strong criticisms of the ‘Synodal Way’ by his Polish counterpart.

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, Germany (pictured on the left) was answering criticisms levelled at Germany’s Synodal Way by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki of Poznan, Poland (pictured on the right).

Bätzing explained that the Synodal Way was intended as a response to an analysis of clerical abuse in the German Church known as the MHG study.

“To us, this starting point in abuse, which you do not mention in your letter, is very important,” he wrote.

“Only if we address the systemic causes of the unspeakable suffering brought upon people by representatives of the Church, mostly priests, will it be possible at all to reopen the space in which a proclamation of the Good News meets with open ears.”

He went on: “Yes, only in this way will we achieve new credibility and new trust in the public and among the faithful, which we have squandered.”

“In this sense, the Synodal Way is a ‘way of conversion and renewal,’ as it says in its statutes, a way that also lets us learn anew as we walk.

“Here, too, an exchange seems helpful to me. I would like to learn from you how you confront the systemic causes of the thousands of abuses that we have to perceive here in Germany, with you in Poland, but also worldwide.”

Bätzing was referring to the abuse crisis that has shaken the Church in Poland in recent years. This led to Vatican disciplinary action against a series of mostly retired bishops accused of negligent handling of abuse cases.

Bätzing comments follow Gądecki’s nearly 3,000-word letter published on February 22, questioning whether the Synodal Way was rooted in the Gospel.

“Faithful to the Church’s teaching, we should not yield to the pressures of the world or to the patterns of the dominant culture since this can lead to moral and spiritual corruption,” the archbishop of Poznań wrote.

“Let us avoid the repetition of worn-out slogans and standard demands such as the abolition of celibacy, the priesthood of women, communion for the divorced, and the blessing of same-sex unions.”

Recently, the Bishops’ Conference of the Nordic Countries also raised concerns over “the direction, the methodology and the substance” of the Synodal Way reform consultations in Germany.



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