Denver Newsroom, May 12, 2022 / 5:23 p.m. (CNA).
The president of the German bishops’ conference expressed his conviction that the teaching of the Church still needs to be developed, in response to the criticism of the synodal path in this country.
The statement came in the latest instance of an exchange of letters between Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg and Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver.
“Our Church needs change to faithfully accomplish its mission and bring the precious gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of our time. And the urgent need for change also includes the need to further develop the teaching of the Church. Such is my conviction,” Bishop Bätzing wrote in a May 5 letter to Bishop Aquila.
The synodal assembly voted in favor of documents calling for the priestly ordination of women, homosexual blessings and the modification of the teaching on homosexual acts.
The German “synodal path” is a process that brings together laity and bishops to discuss four major topics: how power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women. When the German bishops initiated the process, they first said the deliberations would be “binding” on the Church in Germany, prompting an intervention from the Vatican which rejected such claims.
In May 2021, Archbishop Aquila wrote that the first text of the synodal path advanced “unsustainable” proposals for changing the teaching of the Church. He was among the writers of an April 11 open letter warning that the synodal way could lead to schism, now signed by more than 100 bishops, including six cardinals. And on May 2, he wrote to Bishop Bätzing reiterating that the synodal path disputes, even repudiates, the deposit of faith.
In his May 5 response, the Bishop of Limburg argued that the synodal way is an appropriate response to clerical sexual abuse.
“Based on intensive discussions with those affected and intensive scientific studies on the occurrence of child and youth abuse by religious people in our country, we have had to painfully accept that there are multi-dimensional systemic factors in the Catholic Church that promote abuse. Uncovering them and doing all we can to overcome them is the starting point of the Synodal Path in Germany, and this is reflected in the four priority areas to work on,” he wrote. .
“Your argument that the bishops made mistakes in dealing with the abuses and instead of taking responsibility for them now want to fundamentally question the doctrine of the Church in Germany, is, in my humble opinion, appallingly unequivocal and sadly does not do justice from afar to the complex reality of structures in the Catholic Church that facilitate abuse,” Bishop Bätzing wrote to Bishop Aquila.
He added, “I am happy and appreciate that your opinion is by no means shared by all the faithful and the bishops, even in the Church in the United States. This is clearly communicated to me again and again.
“I take your objections seriously,” he said, “because they indicate concern and at the same time that we too in the Catholic Church around the world live in a completely plural situation of worlds of social life and different theological assessments”.
These situations “require an exchange, a critical dialogue and a new understanding and communication with each other, of course on the basis of what belongs to the revealed and immutable heritage of the faith of the Church”, wrote Msgr. Bätzing.
“That is why I am so extraordinarily grateful for the open way in which Pope Francis designed the World Synod on Synodality. Everyone must be able to participate, express themselves and give their opinion. It is an excellent approach that we very much support. in Germany.
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