One Protestant church for Germany is enough, says Pope


Southern Europe


Pope Francis with the German President Frank Walter Steinmeier (right). Photo EPA, Vatican Media

The Roman Catholic Pope Francis has openly criticised the reform process that is underway in the German Catholic Church. He said Germany did not need a second Protestant group.

The reformist group, the “Synodal Way”, is pleading with the Vatican for changes, including the ordination of women and the blessing of gay couples. It also questions the future of celibacy.

“There is a very good Protestant church in Germany. We don’t need two,” the church prince told The Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica. The Dutch press agency ANP reports about this interview. Also, the German weekly Die Tagespost reports about it.

Francis said the same thing in similar terms to the president of the German bishops’ conference, Georg Bätzing. “The problem arises when the Synodal Way arises from the intellectual, theological elite and becomes strongly under the influence of external pressures.”

According to the pope, there are several dioceses in Germany where the church leadership with the faithful and the population has slowly but surely gone down the reform path.

Resignation letter

In the interview, Francis also discussed the situation surrounding the Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. He returned to his post after a period of absence due to a report of years of child abuse by clergy in his diocese and allegations of keeping it under wraps. “When it was very turbulent, I asked the archbishop to go away for six months so that the matter could calm down and I would get clarity.”

That statement attracted attention in Germany because Woelki said he had decided to take a time-out. “On his return, I asked him to write a resignation letter. That’s what he did. He also wrote a letter apologising to the archdiocese. I left him in office to see what would happen, but I have that resignation letter at hand.”

The pope said he has not yet decided to accept Woelki’s resignation and is taking the time to make the right decision, given the pressure on this issue. “Under pressure, it is impossible to judge,” Francis said.



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