Vatican and German bishops meet for ‘positive’ talks on heterodox Synodal Way – LifeSite

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — German bishops and heads of the Roman Curia recently held a “positive and constructive” day of meetings about the German Synodal Way, with plans made for a “regular exchange” of ideas and the submission of themes in Germany to the Holy See for approval.

Late Friday night, the Holy See and the German Bishops Conference (DBK) issued a joint statement, following a highly-anticipated day of meetings centered on Germany’s controversial Synodal Way.

Published by the DBK and the Holy See Press Office the statement described the meetings as “characterized by a positive and constructive atmosphere.”

“Some of the open theological questions raised in the documents of the Synodal Path of the Catholic Church in Germany were discussed,” the two statements added. This enabled the assembled prelates to identify “differences and convergences” between the Synodal Way and the interim report from the October 2023 Synod on Synodality meetings. 

A “regular exchange” between the DBK and the Holy See was agreed upon, which would be focused “on the further work of the Synodal Path and the Synodal Committee.”

This development, wrote the DBK, “will serve to develop concrete forms of synodality in the Church in Germany that are in accordance with the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, the requirements of canon law and the results of the World Synod and will subsequently be submitted to the Holy See for approval.”

The one-day meeting follows a series of official discussions between the DBK and the Vatican which began with the German ad limina visit in November 2022 and then continued with a brief meeting in Rome last July. 

READ: German Synodal Way proceeds after bishops ‘encouraged’ by meeting with Pope Francis

Last July’s meetings were also described as “positive,” which has been a recurring description of such encounters between the two parties, despite increasingly tense public statements, especially with regard to the Synodal Way’s proposed permanent synodal committee.

In late February, the German bishops announced that – following repeated Vatican condemnation of the proposal – they would not vote to establish a permanent “Synodal Council” during their spring assembly.

The hotly contested “Synodal Council” has been one of the most prominent aspects of public concern for the Vatican in recent years, as the DBK and German laity have forged ahead with the Synodal Way. It would establish joint clerical and lay governance in the German church, and as such looked to reorient the structure of the church away from episcopal governance.

Roman Curial officials have condemned the formation of such a body on numerous occasions, with the latest such intervention being made just days before the DBK’s February assembly. 

Discussing the Synodal Council in an exclusive interview with LifeSite, Cardinal Gerhard Müller echoed the strong comments made by both the Vatican and himself on previous occasions.

“The Synodal Committee contradicts absolutely the sacramental constitution of the Catholic Church, [with a] form of Protestant ideas or more Anglican ideas where the Church is governed by the king or directly by a committee of bishops, priests and lay people,” he said. 

Cardinal Müller asserted that “behind the Synodal Committee is the wrong idea of what is a Church and what is the mission of the Church.” This, he stated, was due to the fact that the Synodal Way leaders view “the Church as a more political, ideological reality for the progress of humanity in a more socialistic or liberal paradise on earth, which never will come.”

The joint statement of the Holy See and the DBK did not touch on the German bishops’ overwhelming repudiation of Catholic doctrine on numerous other subjects, including sexuality and gender.

With last week’s meeting concluded, the DBK are due to meet with curial officials before this summer. The Synodal Way is technically concluded, though the German bishops have been at pains to highlight how the process is intimately linked to the ongoing Synod on Synodality. 

After their February assembly, the DBK stated that the Synod on Synodality and the German Synodal Way “are going in the same direction – the development of the Church,” just with “different styles, tempos & emphases.”

EXCLUSIVE: Cardinal Müller slams synodal ‘ideology’ trying to turn the Church into an ‘NGO’  

Commenting on this declaration, Cardinal Müller told LifeSite that behind the argument was the idea that “the Church is old-fashioned, is medieval,” and that “we have to change this Church as an instrument for the implementation of our ideologies, not for preaching the Word of God, but implementing of our ideologies.”

He warned that this line of though “is a reduction of the Church not to be the instrument and the sign, the sacrament for the deep communion of us with God in love, and to be the instrument for the unity of the mankind in Jesus Christ: they want to change the Church to another worldly health organization like an NGO.”

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