Pope Francis ‘appreciates’ the ‘Synodal Way,’ says German bishop after private audience

Saturday’s private audience was Bätzing’s first meeting with Pope Francis since he was elected bishops’ conference president in March, succeeding Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising.

Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishop's conference in St. Peter's Square, June 27, 2020. (Credit: Deutsche Bischofskonferenz/Matthias Kopp)

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis “appreciates” the German Church’s “Synodal Way,” the president of the German bishops’ conference said after meeting with the pope Saturday.

In a statement following his private audience with the pope June 27, Bishop Georg Bätzing said: “I feel strengthened by the intensive exchange with the Holy Father to continue on the path we have taken. The pope appreciates this project, which he associates closely with the concept of ‘synodality’ which he coined.”

He continued: “It was a matter of concern to me to make it clear that the Church in Germany is following this path and always knows that she is bound to the universal Church.”

Bätzing traveled to the Vatican the day after the German Church released figures showing that it lost a record number of members in 2019.

The statistics, issued June 26, showed that 272,771 people exited the Catholic Church last year, a significant increase on the 2018 figure of 216,078.

In Bätzing’s own diocese of Limburg, 9,439 people left the Catholic Church in 2019, 1,459 more than in 2018.

Bätzing said Saturday: “We must find answers to urgent challenges facing the Church, ranging from coming to terms with sexual abuse of minors to the dramatic numbers of people leaving the Church.”

Referring to a 28-page letter that Pope Francis wrote last year to German Catholics, Bätzing said: “With his letter to the pilgrim people of God of the Church in Germany in June 2019, he encouraged and gave indications. He will continue to accompany us attentively.”

The pope’s letter was prompted by the German bishops’ decision to launch a two-year “Synodal Way,” bringing together lay people and bishops to discuss four main topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.

The German bishops initially said that the process would end with a series of “binding” votes — raising concerns at the Vatican that the resolutions might challenge the Church’s teaching and discipline.

In his letter, the pope suggested that participants in the “Synodal Way” faced a particular “temptation.”

“At the basis of this temptation, there is the belief that the best response to the many problems and shortcomings that exist is to reorganize things, change them and ‘put them back together’ to bring order and make ecclesial life easier by adapting it to the current logic or that of a particular group,” he wrote.

Saturday’s private audience was Bätzing’s first meeting with Pope Francis since he was elected bishops’ conference president in March, succeeding Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising.

A press statement from the German bishops’ conference said that the bishop and the pope discussed the situation of the Church in Germany, the impact of the coronavirus, and the progress of the “Synodal Way.”

The first synodal assembly took place in Frankfurt at the end of January. The second meeting is expected to go ahead despite the coronavirus crisis in September.

The press statement added that Pope Francis urged the “Synodal Way” and the German Church to be attentive to the poor, the elderly, refugees and others in need.

“The Pope specifically asked that the implications and experiences of the coronavirus pandemic be considered as we continue to move forward,” said Bätzing.

During his two-day visit to Rome, Bätzing met with Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, and his successor, Archbishop Mario Grech.

He also had meetings with Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

In May, Bätzing expressed the hope that the results of Germany’s “Synodal Way” would be discussed at a synod in Rome.

He said he was “very much in favor of transporting to Rome, to the level of the whole Church, the insights and decisions that we garner from the Synodal Process — also with regard to [the role of] women and ecclesial ministry.”

After his meeting with Pope Francis, he said he looked forward to a meeting of the world’s bishops in Rome in October 2022, which will be dedicated to the theme “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.”

He said: “I hope that with the experiences of the Synodal Way we can make a contribution to the world Synod of Bishops in October 2022, which will deal with the question of synodality.”

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  1. I do not detect the voice of Jesus when “His Eminence” Cardinal Bätzing is speaking.

    He, like most German Bishops (and it seems like most US Bishops) have not conformed themselves to Jesus, but have done the opposite: they are committed to redefining Jesus into a a fictional character who instead conforms to them.

    These men, who title themselves “Excellent” and “Eminent,” are well represented by their colleague in “His Excellency” Robert Zollitsch, a predecessor of Bätzing as head of the German Bishops Conference, who on Holy Saturday, in 2009 if my memory is correct, arranged a nationally televised interview for “the faithful” in Germany, and declared, in words quite like this paraphrase: “The Church no longer says that Jesus was crucified to save us from our sins…his death is instead solidarity with our own suffering.” Jesus is re-made…to be worthy of us.

    So there we have the “New Synodal Church,” where “the faithful” no longer confess our sins and “conform to the beauty of Jesus,” but instead, we ignore our sins, and conform to the bureaucracy of Bätzing.

  2. A confession open and unmitigated by German Bishops Conference President Bishop Georg Bätzing substantiates what myself and others were virtually convinced of. That Pope Francis is the driving force of a synodal process for creation of a polygon Church. If the Pontiff doesn’t repudiate Bätzing it’s cast in stone like pseudo commandments. The initial indication refers back to Cardinal Carlo Martini SJ Milan who was at the time mentor to then Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio SJ Buenos Aires. Cardinal Martini argued the Church was centuries behind the times and that a regional synodal process autonomous by virtue of papal allowance was the most effective route for Modernization [as in Modernism]. Archbishop Bergoglio, a good pupil began the process immediately as Roman Pontiff with the Synods on the Family 2014-15. To set the tone for his vision of modernity he began by castigating traditional bishops as Pharisaical. He went so far as apparently “rigging” those synods [detailed in a book with that title] according to Vatican observer Edward Pentin. Amazonia is the nuclear Synod for global transformation of the Church Germany the prototype. If anyone at this stage considers the Pontiff is at odds with German hierarchy on renewed evaluation and integration of homosexuality, female clerics, non discriminatory communion, abortion please come to grips with the reality staring at you. Cardinal Hummes President of REPAM and Amazonia papal appointed field marshal for radical change is in alliance with the abortion purveyor Ford Foundation. Papal authority is being managed to permit the process while similarly weakening its Munus. Authority diminishes regional churches become nominally associated with Catholicism virtually absent from Apostolic Tradition. Bishops must call their wards to be attentive of what’s occurring and establish firm lines of demarcation between loyalty to Christ and Apostasy. We can remain faithful to the Chair of Peter and similarly refuse what is wrong and not binding.

  3. These people continue to play around with the structures of the Church, as if this is what it was founded for. Structures, such as they are, are only intended to provide the vehicle by which the faith is taught. If the faith is no longer that of Our Lord, then the structures are in vain.

  4. Ze German Bishops who support this Synodal process need to come out of the closet, admit they are no longer Catholic, and find their own little sect based on Synodalism, Sodomy, Socialism and Moral Relativism, with the only infallible dogma being the obligation to pay the Church tax. They can call it the Synodal Church.

  5. Catholic dogma needs to be scrubbed. How is it possible that the tenants restrict women from ordination? Prayers need to be corrected from confusion. Pope Francis was to scrub the Lord’s Prayer to remove “lead us not into evil”. How would our Savior lead us the wrong way. God the Father and Jesus are frequently referred to as KING. Connotation is wrong! Dark synonyms for King… ruler,sovereign, monarch, supreme ruler, emperor, potentate, liege.

    I may be taking some liberty, but some obvious improvements are dictated, not ignored.

    • Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925 with his encyclical Quas Primas (“In the first”). . . to respond to growing Nationalism and Secularism. He was at the front end of the 20th-century pissing contest between Socialism, Fascism and Communism. He might just as well have said Secular Humanism, and tyranny of relativism. But there are those who still don’t get it…

      In hindsight, we recognize that the age of post-Christian ideologies would even victimize the Church, from both without and within. And as in Babel, would even render coherent discourse nearly impossible. Take, hypothetically of course (!), those who might flash their presumptively superior insights and regal vantage point by interchanging “tenets” of the Church with “tenants,” or by confusing “indicated” with “dictated”—horrors, not only the nearly opposite word, but a king-ly one! The shoe (and poo) is on the other foot.

  6. God bless you and thank you, Chris in Maryland!
    I agree with your statement: I do not detect the voice of Jesus when “His Eminence” Cardinal Bätzing is speaking.
    Tomáš in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  7. As a catholic from southern Germany (Bavaria) I deeply oppose that so-called “synodal path”. (By the way, the guy who came up with such a silly term cannot have any reasonable knowledge of Ancient Greek.) Bishop Bätzing does not represent me. I heard no single word from him when the bishops closed down churches for mass and worship. No word of concern or outrage that Holy Easter was virtually cancelled in 2020. (Did this ever happen in history before?) But when things began a bit to loosen up, what did he have to say? That there should be some sort of blessing homosexual relationships. That is the state of the Catholic Church in Germany.

  8. Surely he “appreciates” it. The Germans are doing the heavy lifting and his hands are “cleanish.” To his eyes only. Characteristic of the entire repugnant pontificate.

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