“The truths of our faith cannot be rigid and immovable points of view”, a German bishop has warned.

Driving the news

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg spoke to the National Catholic Register about the German Church’s upcoming “synodal path”.

Bätzing, who is to co-chair a synodal path forum on possible changes to the Church’s “sexual morality”, explained that the two-year reform process slated to begin December 1 must be oriented to “conversion and renewal”.

Just like last month’s Amazon Synod in the Vatican, which has been an “encouragement” to the German Church.

Jesus himself says he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Bätzing added, which means the Church must go further than inflexible perspectives and embrace actual lived experience.

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On the topic of connections between the Amazon Synod and the German synodal path, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück told the Register that the Amazon Synod’s resolutions on the possible ordination of married male priests and female deacons “complies with our reflections for the synodal path”.

Bode insisted that the Amazon Synod’s opening to the possible consecration of viri probati – men with families and a proven record of Church service – as well as the Synod’s promise to study official ministries for women are questions “of great importance” for the German Church’s reform process.

The German synodal path will take up the discussion of celibacy and more roles for women in forums on the “Priestly Life Today” and “Women in Ministries and Offices of the Church” respectively.

The other synodal path topic to receive its own forum apart from those on sexual morality, celibacy and the place of women will be “Power, Participation, and Separation of Powers” in the Church.

Why it matters

Bishops Felix Genn of Münster and Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz also expressed to the Register their support for the German synodal path.

“Like the Amazon Synod, the Synodal Path should also be a way of conversion and renewal, which serves as a point of departure in the light of the Gospel, to speak about the importance of faith and Church in our time and to find answers to urgent questions of the Church”, Genn said.

“Just as suggestions from the world Church can be significant for us, impulses from the Church in Germany can, of course, also be significant for the Church in the world”, Kohlgraf added.

Bishops Genn and Bätzing both rejected the conservative charges that the synodal path, with its discussion of controversial reforms, will lead to a split in the Church.

On the contrary, Genn insisted that there is “a very great unity” around the German Church’s reform process, if certainly there has been some “debate”.

“But shouldn’t we as Church, especially in times of political and social discourse that’s been brutalized by populists, also try to show that one can struggle hard in the matter, but nevertheless deal with each other well and constructively for the right way?”, Genn asked.

“The Catholic Church as a model of constructive conflict culture: That would be something!”

For the record

In the meantime, Monday November 25 the German Bishops’ Conference announced that a symbolic “Synodal Candle” will be lit on the first Sunday of Advent, December 1, to officially launch the synodal path.

Bishops’ Conference President Cardinal Reinhard Marx will light the candle together with lay leader Karin Kortmann in Munich’s Frauenkirche, the “Cathedral of Our Dear Lady”.

Next on Novena:

German laity push bishops for blessings for gay couples

German Bishops’ secretary urges “more courage” in opening up Church offices to women