Vatican: Cardinal Parolin’s Letter to the German Bishops

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State for the Holy See

The Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has let German bishops know, in an official letter, that the exclusive ordination of men to the priesthood and the teaching of the Church on homosexual relations are nonnegotiable, reports the Catholic daily Die Tagespost.

The spokesman for the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK), Matthias Kopp, confirmed that the bishops had received Cardinal Parolin’s letter during their Permanent Council at the beginning of the week.

The site—which, it’s important to remember, is the “unofficial” site of the German bishops—comments on this letter as follows: “The Vatican wants to stop efforts to reform the Catholic Church in Germany; in an official letter, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, indicated to German bishops that certain subjects were nonnegotiable.”

The site continues: “Rome is putting up a warning sign and wants to stop German reform efforts. [...] In the letter of October 25 addressed to the Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference, Beate Gilles, and cited by the newspaper, Cardinal Parolin draws a red line for future sessions of dialogue with the German bishops.

“Notably, he underlines that the Vatican is not considering negotiating on the teaching of the Church on homosexuality or on the letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, through which Pope John Paul II had reaffirmed in 1994 the exclusion of women from priestly ordination.”

There Is a “Synodal Path” for the Whole Church

According to the site InfoCatolica, the letter begins: “When we consider the German Synodal Path, we must realize that a universal synodal path, convoked by the Holy Father, is underway. It is therefore necessary to respect this path of the universal Church and to avoid giving the impression that parallel initiatives are underway, indifferent to the efforts of ‘walking together’.”

He continues by recalling the Letter of the Holy Father Francis to the Pilgrim People of God in Germany, which had already noted—though it is true, in an evasive manner—the necessity to remain united with the universal Church.

Cardinal Parolin still recognized that certain questions can be debated, but he notes that two of them are not open for discussion: that priestly ordination is reserved for men and the teaching of the Church on homosexual relations.

Priestly Ordination Is Reserved for Men

As for the first point, the letter quotes the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis of Pope John Paul II: “in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk. 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”

The text adds three statements of Francis during his pontificate: “as far as women’s ordination is concerned, the Church has spoken and said: ‘No’. John Paul II said it, but with a definitive formulation. That door is closed” (July, 28 2013).

“As for the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last clear word was given by Saint John Paul II, and this holds” (November 1, 2016). And again, he said: “It is not a matter of a dogmatic definition, although it must be accepted by all. No one is authorized to contradict it publicly” (July 1, 2023).

And for good measure, the Secretary of State recalls that the Church punishes with excommunication the attempt to ordain women. The sanction touches both the one who officiates the ceremony and the women who receive it, if they are baptized Catholics.

The Teaching of the Church on Homosexual Acts 

As for the teaching of the Church on homosexual acts, Cardinal Parolin writes the following: “Another subject on which a local church cannot express a different opinion concerns homosexual acts. In fact, even if we admit that, from a subjective point of view, there can be diverse factors which invite us to refrain from judging people, this does not at all change the evaluation of the objective morality of these acts.

“The constant teaching of the Church emphasizes that ‘the objective moral evaluation of sexual relations between persons of the same sex is established with exactness and certainty.’ Another question which is not contested here is the degree of the subjective moral credibility of these relations in each individual case.”


This intervention is certainly invaluable, but it comes very late—perhaps too late. One must only cast a glance at the bitter reaction on one hand of the site and on the other hand of the leaders of the Central Committe of German Catholics (ZdK), essential partner of the DBK in the Synodal Path. (Cf. linked article)

Moreover, this letter would have been welcome before the first session of the Roman Synod, which could have avoided discussions on both points. This proves that the slogan-mantra used in the course of this session was not true: we cannot say everything; only the truth has rights, and error has none.