Germany: The Dean of Bonn Leaves the Synodal Path

March 01, 2023
Fr. Wolgang Picken, Dean of Bonn

The Catholic dean – archpriest – of the city of Bonn, Wolfgang Picken, has resigned from his appointment to the Synodal Path. This was announced by the deanery of the German city. The priest said the need for reform should not be an excuse to move away from unity with the rest of the Church and denounced the lack of serious debate within the Synodal Path itself.

Dean Picken said reform and change are needed in the Catholic Church. “However, I cannot support the lack of openness with which many discussions are carried out in the Synodal Path and the many reform proposals that abandon unity with the universal Church.”

He said the “lack of a culture of debate and critical discussion” of the Synodal Path had disappointed him and made “participation impossible.” Fr. Picken had represented the council of priests of the Archdiocese of Cologne at the plenary assembly of the Synodal Path and was an elected member of the “Power and separation of powers” forum.

Criticisms and objections, like the Vatican's recent intervention, have been largely ignored, in favor of the unflappable pursuit of its own agenda. The Synodal Path says that the basic principle of synodality is “to listen to one another and engage in serious dialogue.” But while the Synodal Path demands this principle from the Pope and from the Vatican, it does not respect it.

“It is this inflexible stubbornness and ruthlessness with which a separate Synodal Path is pursued, that pushes me to resign from my appointment,” said the dean of the city. The process is disappointing and frustrating because it lacks moderation in many of its demands.”

“By its dubious methodology the Synodal Path has most likely damaged many reform concerns that are important to the Catholic Church worldwide.”

The Dean of Bonn had previously harshly criticized the deliberations of the Synodal Path. During the synodal forum “Power and Separation of Powers in the Church,” he presented his own proposed text. However, it was not discussed in the committees.

“For a long time, it seemed as if the objectives of the Synodal Path had already been fixed in advance,” explains Fr. Picken. With this decision, he joins four German theologians who made the same decision last week, citing the gap between the German Church and the universal Church.

The Synodal Path will meet in March for its last Synodal Assembly.