Will the German “synodal way” lead to a permanent “synodal council”? – Catholic World Report

A meeting of the “Synodal Way” in Frankfurt, Germany, in February 2022. / Synodaler Weg/Max von Lachner

CNA Newsroom, September 7, 2022 / 6:31 a.m. (CNA).

Shortly before the next assembly of the German “Synodal Way”, one of the founders confirmed the goal of establishing a permanent “Synodal Council”.

The move would create a permanent body to oversee the Church in Germany, according to the assembly’s decision. program for Friday, September 9.

Critics have drawn comparisons to Communist Soviets and accused the process of reinventing existing Protestant structures.

The members of “Synodal Way” will meet from September 8 to 10 for the fourth synodal assembly in Frankfurt.

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language media partner, reported that several texts are scheduled for a second reading and could therefore be officially adopted.

The texts include calls to change the Church’s teachings on ordain women to the priesthood and on sexual morality, especially in the question of homosexuality.

From the outset, the process, which is not a synodhas courted controversy.

Thomas Sternberg.  (Rudolf Gehrig/CNA Deutsch)
Thomas Sternberg. (Rudolf Gehrig/CNA Deutsch)

Speaking to a German online portal on Monday, Sternberg said a “Synodal Council” would be “a decisive and important continuation of the introduction of participatory structures, as already started with the parish councils at the Synod of Würzburg ( 1971-1975) and which today is becoming more and more urgent at the level of the episcopal conference.

Like others stemming from the controversial German event, also known as “Synodal paththe proposal was heavily criticized.

In June, Cardinal Walter Kasper, a theologian considered close to Pope Francis, said there could be no “Synodal Council,” given the history and theology of the Church: “Synods cannot be institutionally made permanent. The tradition of the Church does not recognize a synodal ecclesial government. A synodal supreme council, as it is currently envisaged, has no basis in the whole history of the constitution. It would not be a revival, but an unprecedented innovation.

Kasper has previously accused organizers of the German “Synodal Way” of using a lazy trick which constituted a coup d’etat.

President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unitywho was bishop of the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart from 1989 to 1999, said that the German process had invited comparisons with communist structures in the Soviet Union: “It was a political scientist, not a theologian, who recently expressed this notion quite strongly, referring to such a Council Synod as Supreme Soviet. ”

The Cardinal continued: “Soviet is an old Russian word which means exactly what we call a Rat, advice in German. Such a Supreme Soviet in the Church would obviously not be a good idea. Such a system of guidance is not a Christian idea, but an idea from an entirely different mind or non-mind. It would stifle the freedom of the Spirit, who blows where and when he wills, and would destroy the structure that Christ wanted for his Church.

Further concerns were raised by a professor of theology at the University of Vienna in June.

The dogmatic Jan-Heiner Tück warned that a German “Synodal Council” would transfer governing authority “from the sacramentally ordained to the bodies, a conversion of power which shows a clear proximity to the synodal practices of the Protestant Church in Germany.”

In June 2019, Pope Francis sent a 19 page letter to Catholics in Germany, urging them to focus on evangelism in the face of “the growing erosion and deterioration of the faith”.

Thomas Sternberg and Bishop Georg Bätzing during the Second Synodal Assembly of the Synodal Way in Frankfurt, Germany, September 30, 2021. Synodaler Weg/Maximilian von Lachner.

The president of the German bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, has repeatedly dismissed the concerns, instead expressing disappointment of pope francis in May.

In an interview published a month later, in June, Pope Francis reiterated that he told Bätzing that the country already had “a very good evangelical community [Lutheran] Church” and “we don’t need two”.

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