Cardinal Schönborn Takes His Turn Criticizing the German Synodal Path

June 23, 2022
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, has expressed serious doubts about the reform process initiated by the Synodal Assembly of the Church of Germany. In an interview with Jan-Heiner Tück, Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Vienna, published in the latest issue of the Communio Review, the Austrian cardinal warns that it is “very questionable that this really does justice to the subject of abuses and those affected.”

The Cardinal said that as important as it is to investigate the abuse scandal, to shed light and to listen to the victims, it cannot be used to demand far-reaching doctrinal reforms. “I see that – perhaps the expression is too strong – as an instrumentalization of the abuse. At least there is a risk.”

The cardinal finds it disconcerting “that we pass so quickly from the subject of abuse to questions about the constitution of the Church.” However, “the evidence of this connection” is far from proven. “Is there really a direct connection between the fact that abuses have taken place in the Church and the fact that there is no separation of powers in the sense of democratic constitutional states? I doubt it.”

The fact that priests and bishops have hushed it up is not in itself “an argument against the episcopal constitution of the Church,” he continues. The Archbishop of Vienna opposes the Austrian way of dealing with abuse. “This path was clearly victim-oriented.”

No Negotiation on the Sacrament of Holy Orders

If the German Synodal Path questions the ordained ministry itself, “then something has simply gone wrong,” criticizes the cardinal. There are “clear magisterial statements” from several popes.

The Cardinal also opposes “the assertion, repeatedly fueled by the media, that if the Church does not modernize itself now, does not open up now, then it will perish creates an uneasy mood of doom.” It requires the maintenance of an “inner space” for tradition and “fidelity to a diachronic synodality” – in other words, with the past.

The Austrian cardinal thus joins a growing list of bishops who have expressed their criticism of the heterodox and schismatic drift undertaken by a large part of the Church in Germany. First the Polish and Scandinavian bishops, then dozens of bishops from all over the world questioned the German process.

Others opposed to the Synodal Path include Cardinals Dominik Duka, George Pell, and Raymond Burk, not to mention certain German bishops themselves, who warned against the drift of the Synodal Path, among whom we must mention Cardinals Gerhard Müller, Walter Brandmüller, and Walter Kasper.