World Synod: End of the Continental European Assembly

February 14, 2023
Poster for the continental phase of the Synod in Prague

The continental phase of the World Synod on Synodality took place from February 5 to 9, 2023 in Prague, in the presence of 200 participants. An additional 500 other participants were able to intervene by videoconference. Cardinal Hollerich and Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort spoke after the event.

Cardinal Hollerich Is “Very Consoled”

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg, is also the general rapporteur of the Synod on Synodality. He was “particularly impressed” by the debate. But he regretted a certain polarization of the content: “Some push for the priesthood for women, others see a catastrophe, some are for the reception of homosexuals, others find that they are sinners with whom we cannot can not associate.”

The rapporteur insisted that “it is not a synod on homosexuality; it is not a synod on the priesthood for women.” And he insists: “I am not saying that these are not important subjects, but not for this synod,” because the subject is synodality. He adds: “The Church must be at the service of the world and not preoccupied with its own problems.”

If we understand the point correctly, they are being told that they must either ignore these problems, which sooner or later – and sooner is already here – will cause even greater damage than what is observable today; or think that synodality will resolve them as if by magic. And the one who is making these comments is a cardinal of the Holy Church.

Archbishop de Moulins-Beaufort Is Comfortable

Eric de Moulins-Beaufort is Archbishop of Reims and President of the Episcopal Conference of French Bishops (CEF). Speaking about the summary document – which has not yet been published – he considers that the draft text is “very honest.… This reflects very well what was said, heard, exchanged, by naming all the points of reflection that still remain.” He recalls that this document is not intended to be “a final document” of the Synod.

For the president of the CEF “certain requests or expectations are carried by voices that we did not necessarily expect.” He acknowledges tensions, but believes that the synod is still “comfortable enough.” He believes that there has been a lot of listening and freedom.

From February 10 to 12, the presidents of the European episcopal conferences will reflect on the assembly which has just ended, and they will issue an “episcopal” text: “It is not a question of making corrections, if there is something to say, it will be another document. There is a lot of respect for the People of God in its diversity, in its variety.”

Intervention of the Synodal Path

Mrs. Irme Stetter-Karp, President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), as well as Bishop Georg Bätzing, Bishop of Limburg, both co-presidents of the German Synodal Path, addressed delegates at the meeting in Prague

Co-chair, Mrs. Stetter-Karp, explained that, “insisting on dual anthropology and confining women to the space outside of ordained ministry tends to drive women, especially young women, out of the church in the 21st century.” On the issue of women's ordination, she said there are “multiple gifts and vocations for women in the worldwide Catholic Church.”

Thomas Söding, vice-president of the ZdK, explained to the Assembly why he sees a vocations crisis in Europe: “We are experiencing a crisis of priestly vocations throughout Europe. What does this tell us?… We have too narrow an idea of the priestly vocation.… We link it to sex.”

Bishop Bätzing told delegates on February 6 that the German Synod calls for new forms of organization for the priesthood and that the Church should be open to people whose lifestyles do not conform to the standards of the catechism, including homosexuals.

“We hear and understand these concerns. I share them personally. I consider it my duty as president of the German Bishops' Conference to integrate them into the overall process of church renewal,” he said.