Msgr. Georg Bätzing acknowledged that Pope Francis and the Vatican are watching with great concern the German Synodal Path, as well as a diminishing role for German theology and the country's ecclesiastical representatives in the universal Church.
The president of the German Bishops' Conference told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Rome's concerns about the situation of the Church in Germany were due to German history.
According to the Bishop of Limburg, “Rome's view of Germany as a Reformation country is always particularly critical. It is not easy for the Synodal Path project. We need a lot of communication. We want to make the Church strong, not to weaken her.”
However, this is precisely what is not happening with the current debate, controversial with many theologians, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, confidant of the Pope.
Bishop Bätzing, who was publicly accused a few days ago of having covered up sexual abuse, also claims that “Church officials” - including himself – “have made mistakes” with regard to the handling of sexual violence, abuse, and cover-up. But in recent years, much has been done to catch up.
The Bishop of Limburg also admits that the Church in Germany is getting smaller and less relevant.
“The gap is big and it is widening. The numbers regarding Church membership and commitment are red flags. It is precisely on questions of sexuality, partnership, and equality between women and men that the gap is greatest.”
“In addition, people are asking questions: Is there a transcendent point of reference, does God exist? Does God have meaning for me? Theologians speak of a fundamental crisis in God.”
To the question of whether this is not a chance for the Church, the bishop answers sociologically: “We are no longer a noteworthy milieu, which is why we must go in search of partners with whom we share the same values,” estimates the sixty-year-old.
We could perhaps find partners in the economy for social projects: “They could be, for example, young entrepreneurs who are starting an initiative for refugee women and create a fashion label with them,” the Bishop of Limbourg explains literally.
This is an answer which shows the mental drift: to regain a presence within German society, the president of the episcopal conference wants to set up social or economic programs with non-Catholics.
And that is the tragedy: the whole Synodal Path is based on a similar idea. It is a question of giving sufficient guarantees to the spirit of the world, of trimming and leveling doctrine so that it is acceptable to contemporary society, in order to regain a visibility which is crumbling and disintegrating.
There is no more missionary spirit, no more spirit of faith, and no more true charity either which is founded on the truth of Revelation. The Synodal Path is a dead end.