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After the Vatican statement: German Catholics criticize the Vatican

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Status: 07/22/2022 09:10

The Vatican’s ban on unauthorized reforms within the German Church has met with strong criticism there: it is “not a good style of communication”. Other reviews are even more explicit.

After the Vatican unilaterally banned the Catholic Church in Germany from carrying out far-reaching reforms, the German side reacted with open criticism. “It does not show a good style of communication within the Church if statements are not published which are signed by name,” said German Bishops’ Conference President Georg Bätzing and Central Committee Chairman German Catholics (ZdK), Irme Stetter-Karp a joint statement.

The Vatican had previously criticized German reform efforts in an unsigned official statement: “The ‘Synodal Way’ in Germany is not authorized to compel bishops and the faithful to accept new forms of leadership and new orientations of doctrine. and morals,” he said. in the statement.

“Synodal Way” reform process

The “synodal path” of the German Bishops’ Conference and the ZdK, which began in 2019, is a consequence of the abuse scandal. He campaigns for reforms in four areas: the relationship to power, Catholic sexual morality, the position of women and celibacy.

Among the concrete innovations sought are the right of the faithful to oversee the appointment of bishops, the blessing of same-sex couples and the diaconate of women, a precursor to the priesthood.

Reformers warn of loss of credibility

The Catholic reform movement “We are the Church” has also criticized the Vatican. It resolutely rejects the harsh and unjustified criticism of the “Synodal Way”. The statement, which was distributed without a sender, shows how dangerous the communication gap between the Vatican and the Catholic Church in Germany could be.

“A real danger for the unity and the future of the Church” does not come from Germany, but rather “from the forces of the Church which fundamentally refuse to reform themselves”. They have no response “to the spiritual and sexualized violence that has led to a dramatic loss of credibility for the church and are unwilling to address systemic causes,” the movement explained.

Skeptics hail Vatican statement

On the other hand, reform skeptics welcomed the Vatican’s clarification. “I think it is good that the Holy See has decided to make this statement,” Bishop Bertram Meier of Augsburg said. Among other things, he had stated in the past that there was no prospect of women being admitted to the priesthood. “The Holy See does not slow down the ‘synodal way’, but tries to channel it and have it enriched by the universal Church,” Meier said.

Critics fear that a German national church may emerge at the end of the “synodal path”. Pope Francis had repeatedly expressed his skepticism about the reform project. He recently said that there is already a Protestant church in Germany – “we don’t need two”.

However, a large majority of the German Bishops’ Conference supports the project.

“Authoritarian and steeped in mistrust”

According to theologian Daniel Bogner, the sharp criticism of the Vatican shows that the Roman central administration fears that it will spread to the Church in other countries. “In Rome, there are obviously serious concerns that Germany could have an effect that would have consequences elsewhere,” said the professor of moral theology and ethics at the Swiss University of Friborg in the dpa news agency.

In terms of form, the Vatican statement is a “poor and needy document,” Bogner said. “He appears authoritarian, is drenched in mistrust and wants to put out a fire in the manner of an administrative order lest it contaminate others.” The text works with assumptions. “Because the German church never wanted to do anything on its own, but wanted to address things that, from their point of view, should also be discussed by the world church.”

It also becomes clear that Rome does not speak with one voice. Pope Francis himself calls for a synodal style of listening, but some of his curial authorities have acted with a sovereign and centralizing attitude. Many would now feel strengthened in their perception that the leadership of the Roman church is deepening a “schism from above”, that is, a division, instead of promoting an open exchange.

The Vatican Rebukes the Synodal Way

Elisabeth Pongratz, ARD Rome, July 21, 2022 4:06 p.m.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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