Pope intervenes in German Synodal Path plan

German Synodal Path

Pope Francis has written a letter about several proposals regarding the German Synodal Path and “the numerous concrete steps that are taking place”.

On Tuesday this week German news outlet Die Welt published a copy of the letter which was addressed to four recipients.

Those four are German women who resigned from the Synodal Path in February 2022.

Theologians Professor Katharina Westerhorstmann and Professor Marianne Schlosser, philosopher Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz and journalist Dorothea Schmidt said they objected to some of the Synodal Path’s conclusions and methods.

The letter begins:

“I extend my gratitude for your kind letter dated November 6. Your concerns regarding the current developments within the Church in Germany have reached me, and I share your concerns.

“There are indeed numerous steps being taken by significant segments of this local Church that threaten to steer it increasingly away from the universal Church’s common path.

“This doubtlessly includes the establishment of the synodal committee you referenced” Francis wrote.

The Synodal Path proposals

The noncanonical Synodal Path process concluded its initial stage in March.

Its proposals are the culmination of a series of meetings between local bishops and lay people since 2019 and embrace progressive positions in the church, Francis’s letter states.

Blessing same-sex couples in the Catholic Church is one such example.

Even though the Vatican officially denied the proposal in a doctrinal decree in 2021, some clergy in Germany are continuing the practice.

Another Synodal Path proposal promotes reconsidering the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

Another pushes for allowing women to be ordained as priests.

Further down the path

The Synodal Path is now creating a permanent synodal council. It will continue to address the German synodal assemblies’ questions.

On 10 November when Francis was composing his letter, Synodal Path participants agreed a synodal committee should be created to establish a permanent synodal council by 2026.

The committee will be composed of bishops and lay delegates, which critics fear might challenge the authority of those bishops.

In January the Vatican made it clear that the church in Germany may not create an institution that could exceed the bishops’ conference authority.

The letter

Francis expresses himself plainly in the letter.

The synodal committee “as outlined in the corresponding resolution is not in alignment with the sacramental structure of the Catholic Church.

“I sought not to find ‘salvation’ in constantly evolving committees, nor to persist in self-absorbed dialogues rehashing the same themes” Francis wrote.

“Rather, I aimed to re-emphasise the importance of prayer, penance and adoration” he wrote, adding that the church should meet people on the streets, in hospitals and the public square.

“I am convinced the Lord will show us the way” Francis finished, thanking the theologians and experts for their work.


Additional reading

News category: World.