DBK Der Synodale Weg rgb

Una Voce Bulletin Number 4: German Synodal Way hits a snag

From the President: The Vatican finally gets tough

The Bishops’ Conference in Germany has been collaborating with the radical activist laity of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) to establish new institutions which would have a decisive role in governing the Church in Germany. The next, and crucial, step in this process was to have been the creation of a ‘synodal committee’, a majority of whose members would be laity (partly because of the refusal of some bishops to participate), and which would have important powers.

On the eve of a meeting to approval the statutes of this committee, the bishops received a letter warning them against this step signed by the Prefects of three Dicasteries: of the Secretariat of State (Cardinal Parolin), of the Doctrine of the Faith (Cardinal Fernandes), and of Bishops (Cardinal Prevost).

This was followed by public interventions in support of the letter by two important German Cardinals, Schönborn and Kaspar.

The Synodal Committee’s statutes was removed from the German Bishops’ agenda.

It is possible make a long list of occasions on which senior Vatican officials have criticised the German Synodal Way, including harsh criticisms of it by Pope Francis in an interview in January last year.

However, the reality is more complex. In November 2022 the German Bishops made an _ad limina_ visit to Rome, which would have been the natural opportunity to apply the brakes, but instead the bishops returned home determined to continue. The Conference President Bishop Bätzing suggested that they were travelling in the same direction as the Vatican’s own ‘Synod on Synodality’.

Comment

One reading of the situation would be that the German Synodal Way usefully brought radical proposals into the Church’s conversation, making the Synod on Synodality look more acceptable to theological conservatives by comparison. Perhaps the German Bishops themselves have taken this view.

This would explain why relatively minor deviations from Vatican policy by conservative bishops continue to be treated harshly, whereas there seemed to be no negative consequences for German bishops ignoring repeated criticisms. These criticisms were just for show.

Whether that was true or not, it seems that the Pope Francis has determined that the Synodal Way must be stopped, if not from contradicting sacramental theology and the Church’s discipline, then at least from undermining the role of bishops, and therefore of the Holy See, as the ultimate wielders of spiritual authority in the Church.

Wishing our readers a fruitful Lent.

Front Cover draft pbk

The Intellectuals and the Latin Mass: Petitions to Save the Ancient Catholic Mass 1966-2007 edited by Joseph Shaw

What do Evelyn Waugh, Lanzo Del Vasto, F.R. Leavis, Nancy Mitford, Agatha Christie, Yehudi Menuhin, René Girard, and Franco Zeffirelli have in common? Along with scores of others—artists, musicians, scholars, writers, actors, politicians and business people—they signed petitions to save the Catholic Church’s ancient Latin liturgy, between 1966 and 2007.

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