Germany: Four Bishops Block Synodal Committee Financing
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Bishop Sefan Oster, Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer
As was foreseeable since the last events that occurred in Germany, the financing of the Synodal Committee, intended to implement the decisions of the German Synodal Path, cannot be done with money form the ecclesiastical tax, which requires unanimous approval by the bishops for common projects.
Four bishops, who have not hidden their intentions, have in fact opposed the funding of the Synodal Committee: they are Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne; as well as the three bishops form Bavaria: Bishops Gregor Maria Hanke, OSB, from Eichstätt; Stefan Oster from Passau; and Rudolf Voderholzer from Regensburg.
The German Bishops' Conference issued a statement on Tuesday, June 20, 2023: “For the vast majority of diocesan bishops, it is important that the 15 decisions of the Synodal Assembly be implemented as quickly as possible.”
“However,” the statement continues, “given that a unanimous decision of the bishops is necessary to provide financial and human resources, and that four bishops have declared that they will not agree to further finance the Synodal Path, it is now necessary to find other means of financing,” according to CNA Deutsch.
Nevertheless, “The first meeting of the Synodal Committee will take place as planned on November 10 and 11, 2023,” the Episcopal Conference said. One of the key issues will be how to finance this controversial project, given that the Synodal Path has already cost several million dollars.
Although the funding figures for the Triennial Synodal Committee have not been made public, German Bishops' Conference (DBK) spokesman Matthias Kopp told the National Catholic Register in May that 5.5 million had been spent on the Synodal Path during its initial three-year-assemblies phase.
On Tuesday, June 20, 2023, the four bishops who voted against funding the Synodal Committee at a meeting of 27 diocesan bishops in Berlin, said in a joint press release that “the plan to now organize a Synodal Committee in Germany, which will then establish a Synodal Council, goes against the Pope's clear instructions.”
“That is why we cannot accept this step at the moment,” said the four bishops. “It is not improbable that at this point, with a lot of money and effort, a body will be set up whose competences are far from clear, only to find in the end that we cannot do it this way,” the four bishops explained.
“During the Synodal Path decisions were made that cause concern to many believers all over the world: these are questions of doctrine, in particular the doctrine of the Church, of the person, of the sacraments,” they added.
“The Synodal Path texts that were adopted should now be discussed with Rome and integrated into the synodal process of the universal Church,” says the joint statement: “This was also agreed during the ad limina visit of the bishops to Rome last November, and at no time was there any question of a new body.”
Cardinals from the Curia have expressed serious concerns about plans to create a permanent Synodal Council for the German Church. Such a body would function “as an advisory and decision-making body on essential developments in the Church and society,” according to a proposal from the Synodal Path.
More importantly, it “would make fundamental decisions of supra-diocesan significance on pastoral planning, matters for the future, and budgetary matters of the Church which are not decided at the diocesan level.” Warned of the threat of a schism from Germany, the Vatican already intervened in July 2022 against a German Synodal Council.
Last January, the Vatican reaffirmed by letter “that neither the Synodal Path, nor any body established by it, nor any episcopal conference has the competence to establish a ‘synodal council’ at the national, diocesan or parochial level.”
(Sources : IntoCatolica/CNA Deutsch/Katholisch – FSSP.Actualités)
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