Pope Francis meeting the German Bishops on Thursday Pope Francis meeting the German Bishops on Thursday  (ANSA)

German bishops discuss Synodal Path with the Curia

German Bishops gathered in Rome for their “ad Limina visit” meet with the heads of the Vatican's dicasteries to discuss the ongoing German Synodal Path.

By Vatican news staff reporter

Bishops from Germany were in Rome this week for their “ad limina visit” including a meeting with Pope Francis on Thursday.  

As they concluded their visit, on Friday the bishops attended a meeting with the Heads of some Dicasteries of the Roman Curia at the Augustinianum Institute in Rome to reflect together on the ongoing German Synodal Path.

This process was convened in 2019, before the worldwide convocation of the 2021-2024 Synod on Synodality, to discuss proposals for change in the Catholic Church in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the German Church.

Cardinal Parolin : “risk of reforms of the Church, but not within the Church"

According to a joint statement issued after the session, discussions were  moderated by Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In his introductory remarks, the Secretary of State after highliting "the importance of the meeting as a moment of sharing and grace and of unity in differences", mentioned the concerns raised by the Synodal Path, notably, the “risk of reforms of the Church, but not within the Church".

Bishop Georg Bätzing 's introduction

In his introduction to the debate Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, President of the German Bishops’  Conference (DBK), reviewed the work and proposals collected by the German Synod and emphasized "its spirit based on listening to the People of God and the pain for the abuses committed by members of the clergy".

Bishop Bätzing then presented the issues addressed in the German Synodal Path: Power and division of powers in the Church;  Common participation and missionary planning; Priestly life today; Women in Church ministries and offices; Living in relationships that work;  Living love in sexuality and in the couple relationship.

Finally, the president of the German bishops expressed his appreciation for the work of the 2021-2024 Synod on Synodality, and Pope Francis’ decision to prolong it by one year.

Concerns and reservations on the German Synodal Path

For their part,  according to the joint statement, Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal  Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, expressed "with frankness and clarity their concerns and reservations regarding the methodology, contents and proposals of the Synodal Way".  

They therefore proposed “for the benefit of the unity of the Church and her evangelizing mission", that the requests that have emerged so far be included in the Synod of the universal Church".

Several German bishops and representatives of the Curia participated in the subsequent open dialogue.

The discussion highlighted the importance and the urgent need of defining and deepening some of the themes emerged from the German Synodal Path.

At the same time, participants all agreed that, despite their different positions, "they are on a journey with all the holy and patient People of God”. 

In this sense, many interventions pointed to "the centrality of evangelization and mission as the ultimate goal of the ongoing processes”, and to he the fact that certain issues cannot be disposed of.

A constructive debate

The  German bishops also presented some proposals, including that of a "moratorium" on the German Synodal Way which, however, was rejected. Moreover they stressed the need to encourage "further reflection and mutual listening in the light of the perplexities that have arisen".

Concluding the session, Cardinal Parolin expressed his appreciation for the debate, which he described as "necessary and constructive" since it "cannot be ignored" in the ongoing listening processes.

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19 November 2022, 11:04