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Bishop Georg Bätzing holds an ecumenical service for flood victims in late August Bishop Georg Bätzing holds an ecumenical service for flood victims in late August  ((c) dpa-Pool)

German Bishops turn attention to Synod and abuse scandal

The Catholic Bishops of Germany are holding their Fall Plenary Assembly, which focuses on the ongoing Synodal Path and reform in the Church.

By Lisa Zengarini

German bishops are holding their Fall Plenary Assembly running until September 23 in Fulda. The meeting is focused on the clerical sexual abuse crisis, the ongoing German Synodal Path (Synodaler Weg), and a discussion of reform in the Church, including the place of women.

The synodal process was launched in late 2019 to discuss a range of contemporary theological and organizational questions, as well as possible reactions to the abuse crisis which has rocked the German Catholic Church over the past years.

Bishops will also discuss the Synodal process starting in October this year, which will lead to the 2023 General Synod of Bishops on synodality in Rome.

Urgent need for repentance for abuse scandal

In the opening Mass on Monday, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, President of the German Catholic Bishops Conference (DBK), emphasized the urgent need for repentance. He noted that the Church too has its part of responsibility in the growing distance between the Gospel and contemporary culture and "the ever deeper gap that makes its understanding difficult" in modern society. 

“Indisputably, we ourselves have contributed to this confusion and therefore to the failure in communicating the Gospel,” he said in his homily, referring to the bishops’ share of responsibility in the abuse scandal.

The bishop added that the vocation to the episcopal ministry “basically requires that we leave behind what is impious, sinful, not spiritual and basically damaging for the community."

Bishop Bätzing: Jesus has the power to heal

At the same time, he emphasized the healing and renewing power of Jesus from injustice and shame.

“One word and everything becomes new: only God can do it, only with him nothing is impossible,” he said. Bishop Bätzing therefore called upon German bishops to "tell how Jesus touched and called us and how we get together, we deliberate and discuss, we plan and decide in order to make the Lord shine, because He is the light of nations.”

Archbishop Eterović: Church renewal process requires communion and holiness 

In his opening remarks, the Apostolic Nuncio to Germany, Archbishop Nikola Eterović, focused on the Syodal process, recalling that "the goal of every reform and renewal in the Church is the holiness of its members".

“The Lord Jesus," he said, "calls on us constantly to follow the path of ecclesial communion, Catholic faith and holiness in our times, especially among pressing ecclesial and social challenges.”

Participating bishops

Sixty-eight bishops are taking part in the assembly. During the meeting they will also elect the member, presidents, and vice-presidents of the 14 Committees of the DBK e and of its sub-commissions.

21 September 2021, 16:34