Germany: Synodal Path Presidents Reaction to the Vatican Text

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal Reinhard Marx and Bishop Georg Bätzing

The reaction of the presidents of the Synodal Path to the statement published by the Holy See’s Press Office on Thursday, July 21, 2022, was quick: in the afternoon, a joint statement by the two presidents of the synodal process was published in response.

The text is signed by Dr. Irme Stetter-Karp, President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), and Bishop Georg Bätzing, President of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK), who co-lead the synodal process.

The response raises the accusation of wanting to make undue decisions in the Church of Germany. It responds by quoting the Statutes which affirm that “the decisions of the Synodal Assembly do not have legal effect by themselves. They do not affect the power of the Episcopal Conference and of the various diocesan bishops to enact legal norms and to exercise their magisterium within the framework of their respective competences.”

This clause – as recalled in the article on the declaration of the Holy See – was obtained only after criticism from the Curia. The German statement adds: “Decisions whose themes are reserved for a regulation of the whole Church are transmitted to the Apostolic See as a vote of the Synodal Path,” (Articles 11 and 12) -- as is done for a particular council.

But – it should be remembered – the Synodal Path is not a particular council, and does not want to be. This is how it is able to convene, in equal numbers, members of the clergy and lay participants, which is prohibited in the case of a council.

The two presidents then affirm that “the Church in Germany will not follow a ‘particular German way.’ Nonetheless, we consider it our duty to make it clear where we believe changes are needed. In doing so, we already feel that the problems and issues we have identified are similar around the world.” Which is correct, to consult the synodal summaries sent to Rome within the framework of the Synod on synodality…

The two presidents reaffirm the need for the process, the trigger for which was the MHG report on the abuses: this is what justifies the presence of the laity of the ZdK, the clergy being responsible for these abuses.

The two presidents hasten to agree to participate in the World Synod… in the future. And this will be done through the work of the Synodal Path.

The two signatories then complain at length about a lack of communication with the Apostolic See, despite their desire to open direct channels. They take advantage of this to show their irritation at not succeeding, and to give a lesson in synodality to Rome: “In our opinion, the synodal Church is different! And they point to the text, unsigned, which attacks the Synodal Path.

The practice of using unsigned texts is common in this type of communication: it often means that the text comes from an authority. But we must admit that it is strange that such a text was published without warning those who were targeted.

Finally, the two presidents treat the declaration of the Holy See in the same way they treated the letter from Cardinal Marc Ouellet: “The next synodal assembly will be an opportunity to take up the request of the Holy See and to discuss it . As presidents of the Synodal Way, we insist on the fact that we want a rapid dialogue with the greatest possible number of instances within the Roman Curia.”

It will therefore be up to the Synodal Assembly to decide what to do with the Roman declaration. The showdown has only just begun.