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German Catholics’ manifesto opposes bishops’ Synodal Path

January 05, 2022

Pope Francis today received a document signed by almost 6,000 German Catholics, expressing opposition to the “Synodal Path” being pursued by the German episcopal conference.

The Pontiff received the 8-page document—entitled “New Beginning: A Manifesto for Reform”—from a delegation of German Catholics who attended his regular weekly public audience.

The manifesto charges that the “Synodal Path,” which proposes radical changes in Church teaching and discipline, “violates the peace of congregations, abandons the path of unity with the universal Church, damages the Church in the substance of its faith, and paves the way toward schism.”

Signs of Vatican support

The fact that Pope Francis arranged a public meeting with some of the German Catholics who signed the manifesto suggests a strong degree of papal support for the initiative. Further Vatican support was evident in the fact that Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, celebrated Mass for the German delegation—as did Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the secretary to Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI.

Pope Francis had written to the German Church leadership in November 2020, expressing concerns about some of the radical proposals of the Synodal Path. But the German bishops continued the process undaunted, and the manifesto observes that the Pope’s objections were “simply ignored.”

Hijacking true reform?

The “New Beginning” document rejects the proposals that have been endorsed by a majority of the German bishops, and insists that the episcopal conference cannot “speak for all Catholics in Germany and make binding decision for them.” The manifesto specifically objects to the statements incorporated in the “Synodal Path” on the ordination of women, divorce and remarriage, the priesthood, and the recognition of homosexual unions.

Supporters of the Synodal Path have argued that the process is a necessary response to the corruption that has been exposed by the sex-abuse scandal. But the manifesto counters that “what actually happened was an instrumentalization of the crisis of abuse for the implementation of a well-known politico-ecclesiastical agenda… a liberal church agenda.”

Moreover, the manifesto charges that the proponents of the Synodal Path—representing clerics and church workers—are seeking to “conserve the model of a highly institutionalized Church” in which they can maintain control. Reform in the Church, the manifesto’s authors argue, “has never been genuine and deep renewal without repentance and the life-changing rediscovery of the Gospel.”

(The full text of the German manifesto, in an English translation, can be found at the link below.)


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: td4207 - Jan. 07, 2022 6:39 PM ET USA

    I expect that the German experience will be repeated in a number of instances. Agree the solution to the decline of the Western Church is to preach the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Posted by: tsmith77461151 - Jan. 06, 2022 10:33 AM ET USA

    Where do we sign!! We need to support this & maybe write one of our own for the bishops here in the states before we get to that point! God Bless for everything you guys do!

  • Posted by: feedback - Jan. 05, 2022 7:21 PM ET USA

    Unlike most of the hierarchy in Germany, the lay Faithful take their Catholic Faith seriously.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jan. 05, 2022 6:13 PM ET USA

    The so-called "synodal path" sounds and looks very much like a German branch of the Anglicans, so authentic German Catholics need our prayers and encouragement to remain truly Catholic.