Pope Francis Holds Vatican Meeting With German Bishops Despite Synodal Way Concern

Pope Francis recently met with German Bishops at the Vatican despite the Roman Catholic leadership’s ongoing concern over the German Synodal Way.

The meeting occurred on Nov. 17, Thursday, which went on for two hours.

‘Open Round of Talks’

According to a Catholic News Agency (CNA) report, the German Bishops’ Conference released a statement following the encounter and described the affair as an “open round of talks.” 

The press release bared that the German Bishops talked with the pope about their concerns and issues, which Francis addressed one by one.

The statement, written in native German, said that the German church leaders and the pontiff discussed matters concerning the German Synodal Way and the global synodal Process (Synod on Synodality).

CNA Deutsch said the press statement mentioned an exchange of ideas between Francis and the German Bishops that ‘reflected on pastoral in changed times.’ 

The statement likewise disclosed the participants talking about “the self-understanding of the priestly and episcopal ministry, the commitment of laypeople in the Church, as well as the challenge of how evangelization can succeed in the context of a secular world.”

“In addition, the bishops were able to report on their experiences in the dioceses. The question of political responsibility, social cohesion, and a perspective for peace in the face of global and regional conflicts shaped the meeting,” the statement said, as quoted by CNA News.

Also Read: Pope Francis Says the Catholic Church is Continuing the Fight Against Clerical Child Abuse

Concerns With German Synodal Way

The same report said the German bishops met with Cardinal Mario Grech on Wednesday to talk about the German Synodal Way, which the former explained as having ‘a lot of lack of understanding about the process in Rome.’ The German prelates are also scheduled to meet with the leaders of some Vatican dicasteries on Friday to discuss similar matters concerning the Synodal Way.

Bishop Georg Bätzing, the German Bishops’ Conference chairperson, explained that their invitation to come to Rome was “no coincidence.”

“That’s why I’m very grateful that we really have a lot of time to talk about this together. This is a real opportunity,” CNA quoted him saying.

The controversial Synodal Way of the German bishops has raised different opinions.

Those who oppose the process have urged Francis to intervene, calling the Synodal Way a “pseudo-democratic restructuring of the Church.” They also pleaded with the pope to ‘defend the common faith and the weak against the violence of the apparatus.’

“Intervene courageously!” the group Neuer Anfang (“New Beginning”) told Francis.

Meanwhile, those favoring the ongoing process expressed hope that the Vatican would give “a clear sign of appreciation of the German Synodal Way.”

The news outlet explained that the German Synodal Way or Synodal Path (“Synodaler Weg”) had attracted its fair share of controversies as it challenges and proposes resolutions on four key topics. These topics include the priesthood, how the Church exercises power, sexual morality, and women’s role within the Church.

Pope Francis warned in 2019 through a letter that the Synodal Way could foster disunity in the Catholic Church. 

“Germany has a great Protestant church. I don’t want another one that is not as good as this one. I want Catholics to be fraternally united with the Protestant Church,” Francis wrote.

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