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German bishops back off confrontation with Vatican

February 19, 2024

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CWN Editor's Note: Following a new warning from the Vatican, the Catholic bishops of Germany have stepped away from plans to approve formation of a new “Synodal Council” to include lay people in forming Church policies.

At their meeting this week, the German bishops’ conference was scheduled to vote on statutes for the Synodal Council, despite clear statements from Rome that the step would violate the Church’s teaching that bishops alone have authority to set diocesan policies. But after receiving a letter from Rome urging against the vote, the episcopal conference announced that the measure would be removed from this week’s agenda.

The Central Committee of German Catholics, which has partnered with the German bishops in promoting the Synodal Council, expressed dismay at the bishops’ concession; the group had urged the bishops to defy Rome and proceed with the vote. Irme Stetter-Karp, the president of the lay group, said: “The Catholic Church in Germany will not have a second chance if it stops the synodal path now.”

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