Vatican warns for schism from Germany


Central Europe


A participant of the Synodal Way. Photo EPA, Ronald Wittek

The Vatican issued another warning of a new schism from Germany coming out of the "Synodal Way".

“The ‘Synodal Way’ in Germany does not have the power to compel bishops and the faithful to adopt new forms of governance and new orientations of doctrine and morals,” the Vatican said in an official statement published in Italian and German on Thursday. This reports the Catholic News Agency.

The declaration was not published by a Vatican dicastery, but by the "Holy See", that is, by the supreme authority. It is therefore a word of power from the Pope. This writes the Catholic German daily Die Tagespost.

The Synodal Way is a process initiated by Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Organised by the German Bishops' Conference together with the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), its aim is to discuss four main topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; the priesthood; the role of women, and sexual morality.

Writing about the process, Pope Francis warned of disunity in his letter to German Catholics in 2019.


The presidents of the Synodal Way, Bishop Georg Bätzing and Irme Stetter-Karp, expressed criticism towards the statements made by the Vatican. "The type of communication today" triggers "astonishment" in them, said the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference and the president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) on Thursday evening in a joint statement.

Bätzing and Stetter-Karp also rejected the content of the Holy See's statement: "We never tire of emphasizing that the Church in Germany will not go a 'German special path'.

However, not everyone seems to agree with that. According to the Viennese theologian Ulrich Körtner, the synodal path could result in another Catholic Church emerging in Germany alongside the Old Catholic Church and the Roman Church. Consequently, there is "a German reinvention of Catholicism, so to speak," according to a guest article by the professor for systematic theology at the Protestant Theological Faculty of the University of Vienna for the Austrian weekly "Die Furche".

From a Protestant point of view, he believes that the synodal path reform process could "result in a Protestantization of the Roman Catholic Churchor even lead to a second evangelical church," Körtner added. "It's not about a second Reformation, it's about a Catholic reform."


In February, the overwhelming majority of synod participants (169 votes for, 30 against, and 6 abstentions) spoke in favour of changing Roman Catholic teaching on sexuality. It is no longer linked to the context of marriage between a man and a woman. Homosexuality is "ethically fundamentally no different from any other sexual orientation," the assembly stated.

Blessings of homosexual relationships are already part of church practice in many places in Germany. A "situation of ambiguity and inconsistency," the assembly argued, which must therefore be overcome. Homosexual acts should also be removed from the list of "capital sins against chastity."

Dorothea Schmidt, a journalist who participated in the Synodal Way, said in February that it would be "It is a complete fallacy to think that more people will now come to church. It will be an everything-is-possible church, but not the church of Jesus. I miss any reference to Christ, who is our Savior."



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