The German bishop asks the Rome Synod to debate the German Synod

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The President of the German Bishops' Conference has called for a synod in Rome to discuss resolutions of the German "synod process" at the level of the universal church.

"What arises synodally must also be clarified and answered synodally," said Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, who explained that he was "very much in favor of the insights and decisions that we draw from the church at the level of the entire church in Rome transport synodal process – also in relation to [the role of] women and church service. "

In an interview with the "Publik-Forum" magazine published on May 27, the bishop confirmed his support for the "synod process" currently underway in Germany and for resolutions that "provide for coalitions that bring about change".

The 59-year-old Bätzing, who succeeded Cardinal Reinhard Marx as President of the German Bishops' Conference in March, also said that he had "concrete ideas about what can be achieved in the forums".

According to Bätzing, the synod's resolutions could include the introduction of a church blessing for homosexual couples. The bishop said that "some are suffering from the fact that their relationship is not fully recognized by the Church" and added that those affected were waiting for a positive "signal" from the Church and warned that in his view the magisterium of the Church, as currently proclaimed, was perceived by people as one of the "unaffordable morals".

Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized that the Church's teaching on the morality of homosexuality is a doctrine that cannot change.

In 2003, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said, "The Church teaches that respect for homosexuals can in no way lead to homosexual behavior or legal recognition of homosexual unions."

Despite all of this, Bätzing said that, in his view, "time is running out" and emphasized the urgent need for "change".

Other changes, the bishop told the magazine, could only include Christians of other denominations in the Eucharist based on their conscience decision.

"Christians can choose, with good arguments and according to their own conscience, to participate in the Eucharist or the sacrament of the respective other denomination," said Bätzing, "because there is now so much agreement about what we believe and celebrate".

In 2018 Pope Francis said that the question of intercommunion can only be decided by the local bishops and then only in compliance with the relevant norms of the church.

Bätzing, who had previously expressed his potential support for the ordination of women, admitted that several popes, including Pope Francis, had emphatically stated that the question of the admission of women to the priesthood was a closed question. However, this could not mean "that the question of the ordination of women will not be discussed further," said the German bishop.

Given that the debate on the ordination of women did not end, Bätzing continued to support the introduction of insights and resolutions that were collected via the “Synodal Path” to “Rome”. What arises synodally must also be clarified and answered synodally. "

The President of the German Bishops' Conference also said that, in his view, a "lack of priests does not necessarily harm the vitality of the Church" and told interviewers that he hoped for changes to "certain wording as it reflects the current state of the teaching in the Church reflect catechism “of the Catholic Church.

While the "substance of faith" is unchangeable, Bätzing claimed that in his view "God's self-revelation continues". In addition, the Church must always search for the "signs of the times" and, if necessary, "develop" its teachings, including those on sexual morality, as reported by CNA Deutsch, CNA's German-speaking news partner.

Catholic teaching on the development of teaching is complex. However, the Church teaches that teaching cannot develop to contradict itself and that "no new public revelation can be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Before he was elected President of the Bishops' Conference, Bätzing headed the forum on the sexuality of the "synodal process". On May 28, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Cologne announced that he would no longer participate in this “Synodal Forum” because it advocated “polyvalent sexuality”.

In September 2019, Marianne Schlosser, member of the International Theological Commission, announced that she was no longer available to participate in the process, and raised concerns about the approach and methodology of the "synodal path".

Schlosser, professor of theology at the University of Vienna and recipient of the Ratzinger Prize 2018, was invited to participate as an expert in the forum of the Synodal Way "about women in church roles and offices".

Schlosser said that she could not identify with the preparatory group's interim report and raised a number of questions, particularly a "fixation on the ordination" of women.

Last year, German bishops announced plans for a two-year "Synodal Walk" in which laypeople and bishops would come together to discuss four main themes: the way power is exercised in the church; Sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.

They said the process would end with a series of “binding” votes, raising concerns in the Vatican that the resolutions could question the teaching and discipline of the Church.

In June, Pope Francis sent a 28-page letter to the German Catholics asking them to focus on evangelization in the face of "growing erosion and deterioration in faith."

"Every time an ecclesial community has tried to get out of its problems alone and rely solely on its own strengths, methods and intelligence, it has multiplied and promoted the evils it wanted to overcome," he wrote.

In September the Vatican sent a letter to the German bishops stating that their plans for the synod were "not valid for the church".

After a back and forth between the Bishops' Conference and the representatives of the Vatican, the first synod meeting took place in Frankfurt in late January. The second meeting is expected to take place in a changed format and at a later date due to coronavirus restrictions.

The process should initially be completed in October 2021.

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