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German bishops’ leader rejects Vatican caution on Synodal Council

March 01, 2023

Bishop Georg Bätzing has told reporters that the German bishops' conference will proceed with the formation of a Synodal Council, despite clear opposition from the Vatican.

Bishop Bätzing, the president of the episcopal conference, said that the Synodal Council—composed of bishops and lay people, and tasked with setting policies for the Church in Germany—would be formed this month.

In a terse letter to three leading Vatican cardinal, the German bishops' leader did not directly address the Vatican's warning that the proposed Council would violate the proper authority of diocesan bishops. Instead he said that the German bishops would be happy to meet with Vatican officials to "clarify" the role of the new group as it develops.

The letter from Bishop Bätzing was addressed to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops; and Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. In a January letter to Bishop Bätzing, the same three cardinals had stated that the German bishops “are not empowered to create a governing or decision-making synodal assembly" such as the Synodal Council. The cardinals noted that their warning letter had been approved by Pope Francis.


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