Synod: Overbeck Rejects Apostolic Tradition

Source: FSSPX News

Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck

Franz-Josef Overbeck, bishop of Essen (Germany), is one of the champions of the German Synodal Way. A participant at the Synod on Synodality, he is unhappy with the way things are going; evidently, things are not going fast enough for his taste. He no doubt hoped that the Synod would approve all the deviations of the Synodal Way.

The German Synodal Way

During the press conference on Saturday, October 21, the bishop of Essen announced himself in favor of the Synodal Way, a process that has been going on for more than 4 years. “The reason we began on this path are the numerous cases of abuse in our country,” explained the director of Adveniat, the German agency which finances a great number of aid projects in Latin America.

But moreover, the German process is “a path of penance and of renewal” whose objective is to ask itself “what changes are necessary and urgent in order to renew the ecclesial life.” For the bishop, this process enabled the discovery of “a new way of being together, a living synodality in the Church in Germany, which is different from what is happening here in Rome.”

It is significant to recall that in the course of the four German synodal assemblies, the participants—religious on equal footing with laypeople—voted in favor of the ordination of women, the blessing of same-sex couples, and the modification of Church teaching on homosexual acts, not to mention the modification of the structure of the Church.

The Signs of the Times Superior to Theology, Magisterium, and Tradition

Overbeck then affirmed that “if theology, the magisterium, or tradition and the signs of the times persist in contradiction” and are “irreconcilable, they will not convince anyone and will not even be able to give direction to Catholics.” Therefore, the “signs of the times” are the reference for the Church, above Revelation, Magisterium, and Tradition.

Have we correctly understood him? The bishop then clarified that he always places “Jesus Christ at the center of our Faith and our common research, without getting hung up on the customs and the traditionalisms that have no priority in the hierarchy of the truth.” That seems clear.

Putting an End to Apostolic Tradition

Asked about what he meant by “tradition,” Overbeck explained that it was a matter “before all apostolic tradition.” He continued: “All the traditions we have in the Church are different, as with Christians and Catholics. We are Catholic and we have our tradition—for example, in the liturgy—but that is a particular tradition. There is also the aspect of the councils in the different churches of Germany.” 

Utterly taken aback, one journalist wanted to know what he meant: “Do you mean that we must put aside Apostolic Tradition?” Twice he responded, “yes,” that is what he meant.

Opening the Diaconate to Women

Asked about the Synod on Synodality and the question of the female diaconate, Overbeck first had this surprising response: “We are in the world, and do not forget that Germany is 30% Protestant—around half of pastors are women, and not men.” 

Regarding the Synod, he stated that during the meetings in which he participated, “it was emphasized that it was perhaps time that women become permanent deacons. The important thing is that it is a matter of vocation and not only a so-called ‘right’ because women must now enter into the domain of the sacramental ministry in the Church.”

On Married Priests

In Germany, he explained, the situation is “very serious” and he laments that there are not more seminarians. He emphasized that he had been bishop of Essen for 14 years and during that time, “close to 300 priests died and I ordained 15.”

He then insisted on the necessity of having priests and deacons in order to “save the sacramental life of the Church.” Overbeck stated that he had “an idea of the way in which we can make a step forward, because we are confronted by questions of a new stage of the third millennium. The solutions are very clear for me and are different from those of the second millennium.”

To support his opinion, he referenced “Eastern and Orthodox churches” present in the Synod, “and we can see that the priesthood of married priests is also normal.” He concluded: “Perhaps at some point we must give another solution.”

We must respond to the bishop of Essen, on one side, that Protestants in Germany, whose pastors are married, have a recruitment problem at least as significant as that of the Church. Additionally, the Eastern churches also have this problem. If Overbeck saw the solution in the marriage of priests, it is by pure prejudice. This will not lead anywhere, if it does not turn into an even more serious crisis.