Bishop Bätzing No Longer Wants to Respond to Criticisms of the Synodal Path

May 19, 2022
Archbishop Samuel Aquila, harsh critic of the Synodal Path

Recently, new criticisms have been leveled at the Synodal Path, a process undertaken by the Church in Germany. On May 5, Tagespost reported a new criticism by Bishop Czeslaw Kozon, president of the Episcopal Conference of Scandinavia. Also, on May 3, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver sent a new criticism to Bishop Bätzing.

The president of the German episcopal conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, is puzzled by all these criticisms. He responded to Archbishop Aquila by rejecting the criticism leveled at the Synodal Path and warning that he would not respond to open letters in the future.

The Bishop of Limburg stressed that the Synodal Path aims “to confront the systemic causes of abuse and its cover-up, which has caused untold suffering to so many people in the Church and through the Church.”

In his new criticism, Archbishop Aquila reiterated that the Synodal Path is a “betrayal of the Gospel.” He explains that the initiative questions the heritage of the faith and even rejects it in some cases. He referred to debates over Catholic sexual morality.

Of the abuses, the Archbishop of Denver writes, “Why must Catholic teaching on fundamental issues of doctrine and the moral life change because German bishops have failed to teach effectively and govern honestly?”

In his response, the President of the German Bishops' Conference states: “Based on intensive discussions with those affected and intensive scientific studies of the occurrences on the occurrence of abuse of children and young people by clerics in our country, we had to painfully accept that there are multi-dimensional systemic factors in the Catholic Church which favour abuse. Uncovering these and doing our utmost to overcome them is the starting point of the Synodal Path in Germany….”

By contrast, Msgr. Aquila's argument is that the bishops made mistakes in dealing with the abuses and, instead of taking responsibility for them, now want to fundamentally question the teachings of the Church, which is “in my humble opinion terribly unilinear and unfortunately does not do justice, far from it, to the complex reality of the structures which encourages abuse in the Catholic Church.”

Bishop Bätzing has announced that “I will no longer respond to such open letters. The fact that I did so the first time is due to the respect I have for you and my brothers in Christ. But you also know that it is the usual practice to leave open letters unanswered.”

He also affirmed that, among the signatories of the first letter, there were “those who were decidedly uninformed about the real discussion process of the Synodal Path,” reproaching the Archbishop of Denver.

“And even after some time they had no knowledge of the fact that and how I had answered in detail. This shows: you did not make my answer even remotely publicly available in similar ways to your own letter.” He reiterated that that is Aquila's right, but concludes that it makes his approach “somewhat questionable.”

Be that as it may, it is not necessary to be a bishop to realize the drift of the Synodal Path. And it is also obvious that Rome cannot not know what is going on there. Finally, it is certain that, if Rome does not intervene – and by Rome, we mean the Pope – the damage inflicted on the Church in Germany will be severe.