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German synod plans to be vetted by controversial lay group, not Vatican

The role of the ZdK as co-equal participants with the German bishops was identified as a point of special concern in a Vatican assessment of the German synodal plans.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich-Freising, president of the German bishops' conference. (CNS photo/Sascha Steinbach, EPA)

Berlin, Germany, Sep 27, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- The plan for a “binding synodal process” recently approved by the German bishops will be sent to a controversial lay group for amendment and approval, CNA has learned.

On Sept. 25, the German bishops’ conference concluded a three-day plenary session at which bishops debated and voted to adopt statutes for the creation of a Synodal Assembly in partnership with the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK).

According to senior sources in the German bishops’ conference, those statutes, the text of which has not yet been released, will now be passed to the ZdK for review and approval. The group’s consideration of the plans includes the opportunity for the committee’s membership to amend the text before voting to adopt the statutes.

Earlier this year, ZdK leaders assured their members that the groups’ participation in the synodal process was predicated on a guarantee from the German bishops that its resolutions would be “binding.”

The role of the ZdK as co-equal participants with the German bishops was identified as a point of special concern in a Vatican assessment of the German synodal plans. A review of a draft of the synodal statutes was produced by the Pontifical Commission for Legislative Texts in August and sent to the German bishops by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

The PCLT concluded that the German plans would essentially form a particular council – a canonical body which can, though only with explicit Roman approval, legislate and teach authoritatively – instead of a synod, which is a purely consultative body. The commission also concluded that the German synodal plans created a “parliamentary” forum for treating universal Church teaching which was “ecclesiologically invalid” and sought to address topics which “cannot be the object of the deliberations or decisions of a particular Church without contravening what is expressed by the Holy Father.”

After meeting with Pope Francis and Cardinal Ouellet last week, Cardinal Reinhard Marx insisted that the German “binding synodal process” could not be properly classified as either a council or a synod, but should be understood as something unique. Matthias Kopp, spokesman for the German bishops’ conference, later insisted that while the synodal process is said to be “binding,” this is not meant to imply any Church figure would be bound by the synodal conclusions. “Binding means it is a vote,” not simply a discussion, said Kopp.

After approving their own version of the statues, the ZdK president and vice president will meet with the head of the German bishops’ conference, Cardinal Marx, and Bishop Franz-Joseph Bode, vice chair of the conference. This group of four will consider and reconcile any changes between the statutes for the Synodal Assembly as approved by the two groups, and agree upon a final version before the Assembly is due to convene on at the beginning of Advent.

Senior Churchmen in Germany also confirmed to CNA that, regardless of any changes proposed by the Central Committee and agreed by Marx and Bode, there is no intention to seek Vatican approval for the final version.

A senior source in the German bishops’ conference confirmed to CNA that the ZdK is expected to make changes “only on a very minor scale,” but confirmed that it will be up to Cardinal Marx to determine whether the rest of the German bishops will be involved in approving the final version agreed upon with the ZdK leadership.

Although passed by the bishops by a margin of 51-12 in Wednesday’s vote, the German synodal plans have attracted open expressions of concern that have become more frequent in recent days. Both Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne and Bishop Rudolph Voderholzer of Regensburg issued statements explaining that they had voted against the statutes.

Voderholzer said there is a “a dishonesty at the beginning of the Synodal Process” and “a lack of a theological hermeneutics and an affirmation of the principles of the Catholic foundation of faith recognized by all those involved.”

The German bishops have already announced that the synodal process will consider proposals from four working groups on the issues of power sharing in the Church, the role of women in offices and ministry, sexual morality, and clerical discipline.

ZdK leaders have taken consistent positions in opposition to settled universal Church teaching and discipline including calling for the ordination of women, the blessing of same-sex unions in churches, the abdication of Church teaching on homosexuality, and the ending of clerical celibacy.

The working groups, constituted in partnership with the ZdK have already begun their deliberations.

On Saturday, Marianne Schlosser, a theologian appointed by Pope Francis to the International Theological Commission and the committee assigned to study the historical role of female deacons, said she was ending her participation in the synodal forum on the role of women in Church ministries and offices, calling the process “fixated” on the ordination of women to the priesthood.

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  1. Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to trust cardinals whose croziers stylistically resemble a prop from the first “Alien” film.

  2. The “Sludge” being foisted onto Germany’s Faithful Catholics by the “Rubber Stamping” ZdK and the Marxist Bishops is just what Ma Merkel ordered.

  3. I have no idea how much the binding synodal process is costing German Catholics, but I can save them the money! This quote says it all “on the issues of power sharing in the Church, the role of women in offices and ministry, sexual morality, and clerical discipline.” The German bishops want centralized power (and money of course), they will allow women in the hierarchy if it also advances homosexuals’ role in Church governance, sexual morality must be laxed to include everything goes, and they want a married priesthood as long as that includes married homosexuals. See folks no need to spend millions in Euros, they don’t even need to discuss the topics they just need to vote so they can show the world how a democratic church (with socialist inclinations) functions. I suppose the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church will have to recognize the shepherds of this new German National Catholic Church as having Apostolic succession just like we did for the Anglicans for 400 years until last century.

  4. “There is no stop sign, explained Marx. That is to say, Pope Francis did not tell Cardinal Marx to stop a project that plans to question the Church’s teaching on celibacy, on sexual morality, on the all-male priesthood, as well as on the link between ordination and governance in the Church” (Maike Hickson LifeSite). Factors driving German independence from Rome are German religious intellectualism rooted in Bultmann’s demythologizing Rahner’s proportional situation ethics Das Dynamische Kasper’s flexible deity that assumes God endowed Man with capacity to determine his own future minus unneeded directive [such independence of thought gives glory to the Creator who bestowed such gifts on creatures in his image]. There are other reasons one may identify as relevant such as the devastating effect of Nazi iron fisted autocracy, obsession with death on the German psyche. Reactive guilt and consequent refuge in Liberalism. All secondary to a global loss of faith throughout the Church throughout a world that if increasingly secular at least had held to common law values and natural law. The pattern of initial papal warning eventual doctrinal change is evident. Similarly the synods on the family were engineered to a preconceived end finality with the Argentine Pope Francis letters entered into AAS. Death penalty a controversial issue perhaps cover for more radical issues priest celibacy, homosexual adult relationship, relativity of religious belief, now a global philosophy of Man centered Anthropocentrically rather than theologically as evidenced in Amazonia and the Synod. Where we are must be evaluated first rather than all the variable explanations on how we got here. A 2000 year doctrinally inviolable Institution’s sudden radical change cannot be accidental. Rather all indication is intent. All the more rationale for respectful resistance and calling it as it is in line with Cardinal Burke Bishop Schneider.

    • Father Morello, as you state in a much more elaborate way, the Church never becomes corrupted by accident, or “social forces”, historical this and that, etc. It is always corrupted by hateful intent, careful planning, propaganda, lots of infitration, sabotage and deception. Pope Francis is at the end of this maleficent process. From the beginning, Pope Francis gave brazen hints of his intentions for the Church, from joking about the apropiateness of electing him as Pope, to bringing a large size statue of Martin Luther to the Vatican (on October 13, 2016- and not a word to honor Our Lady of Fatima), etc., etc.

      Now he has “hired” the descendants of Martin Luther, the German treasonous “hitmen” Bishops and Cardinals to do the most dirty work for him: apostasy and eventually schism. Pope Francis has done much of nothing to stop the German Judases, just writing letters, etc. to show “disagreement” and “displeasure” but nothing else. Is that how any of the good Popes in our 2,000 years history would act? His very mellow oppostion implies total approval and complicity, just like someone wanting to kill another and hiring a hitman to stay “clean” and “innocent”.

      Later, Pope Francis, will use his church and political clout to say, “Oh, well, they did it. It’s a done deal. Let’s embrace and accept our separated “Catholic” brethren and accept most of their ideas in order to bring us together, preserve unity, faith and love “as Jesus would want”. Total Judas style hypocrisy! This is the time for True Catholics to act like the Saints and say no way, no way, no way!! That even if we end as Church of just a couple million. The Judas “Catholic” Church wil not last as it is not based on Christ but Satan. We will be judged by God,stay on the right side! We were born for such a time as this!! Be brave and uncompromising like Our Lord Jesus!!

  5. Not today. Not MY Catholic Church! This is the gravest sin perpetrated against God Himself. Prayers in support of the gates of hell shall not prevail. Prayers for God to step in and do whatever it takes to put His Church back on the right and Holy path. We serve a living and jealous God! I beg anyone reading this to stand with me in prayer and open, verbal defense of the one true Church

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