It’s official – some of German Synodal Path not happening

German Synodal Path

Some German Synodal Path suggestions for change won’t be happening, says the Vatican.

Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has written an official note to the German Bishops’ Conference secretary general, Beate Gilles to clarify the Vatican’s stance on the German Synodal Path reform proposals.

Non-negotiable issues

Some issues are “non-negotiable”, Parolin told Gilles, who shared Parolin’sofficial note with the German diocesan bishops.

These issues include the German Synodal Path project and its debates about the ordination of women and homosexuality.

The Vatican is not considering negotiating the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, Parolin wrote.

Nor is it open to debating the letter”Ordinatio Sacerdotalis”. That’s the letter Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that women were excluded from ordination to the priesthood.

The 23 October letter also reminded the bishops of potential disciplinary consequences for anyone defying Church teaching.

Visit to Rome

In July, German bishops went to Rome to discuss the Synodayl Path with the heads of several Vatican dicasteries.

They tried again after October’s Rome-based Synod on Synodality. Among them were German bishops’ conference, president Bishop Georg Bätzing and Gilles.

Talks they began with several heads of dicasteries will be continued in 2024, the bishops conference says.

News reports say the heads of the dicasteries for doctrine, ecumenical relations, bishops, liturgy and sacraments, and for legal texts want to meet representatives of the German bishops next January, April and June.

During those meetings, they will discuss what can and cannot be changed in regard to Church doctrine and discipline.

The themes up for discussion include ecclesiology, anthropology, moral teaching and liturgy and the relevant texts of the Synodal Path.

Global reform underway

Although meetings between the German bishops and the Vatican have been arranged, Parolin’s letter points out that a global synodal process is underway.

“It is therefore necessary to respect this path of the Universal Church and to avoid the impression that parallel initiatives are underway that are indifferent to the endeavor to ‘journey together,'” Parolin wrote.

The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) says there had been pre-Synod movement on reform in the Vatican – within the curia and also between the curia and the pope.

ZdK President Irme Stetter-Karp notes, for example, that Cardinal Parolin had said it was impossible to give women voting rights in the synod because that would contradict canon law.

“And what did our pope do? Suddenly it was legal and was put into practice,” she says.

Pope Francis recently expressed his concern about concrete initiatives some German dioceses and the Catholic Church in Germany as a whole are taking.

These include establishing a German synodal council, which Francis said threatens to steer the Catholic Church in Germany away from the universal church.


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