German and Austrian bishops resident in the Amazon have accused Amazon Synod critics, including cardinals and fellow bishops, of “outright lies”.

Driving the news

The German Bernardo Johannes Bahlmann, Bishop of Óbidos in Brazil, and the Austrian Erwin Kräutler, Bishop Emeritus of Xingu, were speaking at an Amazon Synod debriefing event Wednesday in Würzburg.

“My impression is that they have no idea”, Bahlmann said of the ultraconservative prelates and laypeople who constantly attempted to undermine the Amazon Synod, which took place October 6-27 in the Vatican.

Bahlmann lamented he was “never addressed” personally by any one of the Synod critics and asked by them what was to be resolved at the bishops’ meeting.

The criticisms constantly launched of the event never allowed a fair discussion of the issues, Bahlmann denounced.

“What kind of collegiality is that?”, the bishop asked.


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Bahlmann and Kräutler insisted that it was a “outright lie” to claim that the Amazon Synod had been instrumentalised by German and European bishops looking to make Church reforms, such as married priests or women deacons, at home.

Bahlmann added that critics of the Synod had shown an “unprecedented disrespect” for Pope Francis, who called the event.

The bishop added that he wished that Synod critics would make a trip to the Amazon to see the situation in the region first-hand.

“They imply that the Holy Spirit is not working properly”, he said of the Synod fault-finders.

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Why it matters

Kräutler, for his part, lamented that he became a “victim of hate speech” after pointing out that Synod critics should ask themselves if they are still Catholic.

“He who is against the synod is against Francis. He who is against Francis has to ask himself whether he is still Catholic”, Kräutler had warned as the Synod was getting underway.

Those kinds of warning earned Kräutler a sharp rebuke from ultraconservative Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, who in September wrote a letter to the world’s cardinals to warn them of the “grave influence in a negative sense” that Kräutler and other progressive bishops were having over the organisation of the synod.

In the conference in Würzburg, Kräutler said some of the criticism had been “below the belt”.

The bishop was the object of calumnies on ultraconservative social media accounts after he was seen “holding hands” with a young woman towards the end of the Synod.

Those ultratraditionalist accounts immediately assumed the bishop was having an affair, but without any proof.

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