German bishops’ president asserts ‘the need to develop the Church’s teaching’

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

 

Bishop Georg Bätzing at the closing press conference of the spring plenary meeting of the German bishops’ conference. / Martin Rothweiler/EWTN.TV.

Denver Newsroom, May 12, 2022 / 17:23 pm (CNA).

The president of the German bishops’ conference has expressed his belief that Church teaching needs further development, in response to critique of the synodal path in that country.

The statement came in the latest instance of epistolary exchange between Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg and Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver.

“Our Church needs change in order to faithfully carry out her mission and take the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of our time. And the urgent need for change also includes the need to further develop the Church’s teaching. Such is my conviction,” Bishop Bätzing wrote in a May 5 letter to Archbishop Aquila.

The assembly of the synodal path has voted in favor of documents calling for the priestly ordination of women, same-sex blessings, and changes to teaching on homosexual acts.

Germany’s “Synodal Path” is a process that brings together lay people and bishops to discuss four major topics: how power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women. When the German bishops launched the process, they initially said that the deliberations would be “binding” on the Church in Germany, prompting a Vatican intervention that rejected such claims.

In May 2021, Archbishop Aquila wrote that the synodal path’s first text put forward “untenable” proposals for changes to Church teaching. He was among the drafters of an April 11 open letter that warned the synodal path may lead to schism, now signed by more than 100 bishops, six of whom are cardinals. And on May 2 he wrote to Bishop Bätzing reiterating that the synodal path challenges, and even repudiates, the deposit of faith.

In his May 5 response, the Bishop of Limburg maintained that the synodal path is an appropriate response to clerical sex abuse.

“Based on intensive discussions with those affected and intensive scientific studies on the occurrence of abuse of children and young people by clerics in our country, we had to painfully accept that there are multi-dimensional systemic factors in the Catholic Church which favour abuse. Uncovering these and doing our utmost to overcome them is the starting point of the Synodal Path in Germany, and it is reflected in the four priority areas to be worked on,” he wrote.

“Your argumentation that bishops have made mistakes in dealing with abuse and instead of taking responsibility for it, they now want to fundamentally question the doctrine of the Church in Germany, is, from my humble insight, frighteningly one-line and unfortunately does not do justice by far to the complex reality of the structures in the Catholic Church that facilitate abuse,” Bishop Bätzing wrote to Archbishop Aquila.

He added, “I am glad and appreciate the fact that your opinion is by no means shared by all the faithful and bishops, even in the Church in the United States. This is clearly communicated to me again and again.”

“I take your objections seriously,” he said, “because they indicate concern and at the same time that we also in the Catholic Church worldwide live in a thoroughly plural situation of different social life worlds and theological assessments.”

These situations “require exchange, critical dialogue and a new understanding and communication with each other, of course on the basis of what belongs to the revealed unchangeable heritage of the Church’s faith,” Bishop Bätzing wrote.

“That is why I am so extraordinarily grateful for the open way in which Pope Francis has designed the World Synod on Synodality. Everyone should be able to participate, have their say and contribute their views. This is a great approach we in Germany support very much.”


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6 Comments

  1. As St John Henry Newman noted, Development of Doctrine means we grow in understanding of Church teaching. It does not mean change or repudiation of Church teaching.

  2. Says imam Batzing in his media fatwa: “Our Church needs change in order to faithfully carry out her mission and take the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of our time.”

    “Imam Batzing”? Might we notice the identical DNA in (a) the mission of Islam with its fluidity toward jihad, (b) the mission of the progressive West with its fluidity toward libertinism, as in abortive child abuse, and in (c) Batzing’s evangelizing mission with its fluidity toward sexual perversion and even deconstruction of the sacramental order in the Church?

    Do we detect a certain cast-of-mind in all three seemingly different trajectories? A certain lowest common denominator?

    FIRST, in Islam, one finds references to Moses’ Law, but no explicit listing in the Qur’an (none that I can find) of the prohibitive last six Commandments (hence, a space for jihad).
    SECOND, in the radically secularized West we find the virulent affirmation of civil rights (civil rites?) in the absence of responsibilities (hence a space for the Sexual Devolution of the 1960s and then “it’s my body [only]”).
    And, THIRD, in Batzing (and others in the Church) we find a myopic focus on concrete cases at the expense of universal moral principles and absolute prohibitions (as articulated in Veritatis Splendor and in the Catechism, now under attack by Batzing & Co.).

    St. Jerome looked back forty years to the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) are grieved that “The whole world groaned and marveled at finding itself Arian.” Likewise, today in the West and even in wide swaths of the Church, as they already (!) converge toward Islam-like simplicity and selective blindness. But, the inconvenient thing about the Eucharistic and perennial Catholic Church, now nearly 1700 years after Nicaea, is that it’s about BOTH the (Batzing’s) “precious Gospel of Jesus Christ” AND the singular and Trinitarian event (!!!) of the incarnate Christ, as witnessed in the Gospel texts—

    “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8).

  3. Bishop Bätzing couldn’t have made it clearer. His conviction for urgent need for further development is not referring to Benedict’s hermeneutic of doctrinal continuity, rather a paradigm shift. Although hermeneutic continuity is perceived by Bätzing in the “World Synod on Synodality” in the open dialogue promoted by Pope Francis.
    Paradigm shift hasn’t been spoken of lately, rather the actual shift in doctrine has been underway, more than seemingly in structural changes the virtual regulation of the CDF by granting Dicastery primacy to Propaganda Fides. Appointments of prelates who favor change on issues homosexuality, divorced and remarried. Amazonia, Marx’ disappointment, Bätzing’s direction of the German Synodal Way as intended by Cardinal Marx, and Pope Francis’ tolerance [his letter of admonition to the Germans was more a sympathetic warning] followed by considerate silence.
    Much of our response here is nothing new. At best we might add that at least we’re not becoming inured. As in line with this article, Germany’s counter to the Synodal Way M Grünewald of Germany’s New Way says, “to attach a higher importance to them [Synodal Way proposals] is so theologically adventurous that this must be classified as revolutionary or – in church language – as heretical” (Martin Grünewald neuer Anfgang).

  4. Some laypersons see “the complex reality of the structures in the Catholic Church that facilitate abuse,” as echolocating squeaks of Bishop Batzing calling forth past historical heresies. He unearths, resources, refreshes, and reforms old heresies to meet the needs of today’s world. These needs are just and true since he and his fellow immoralist hierarchs have interpreted them. Francis adds notes of rest or occasional dischordant yet harmonic sound.

    Like yesterday’s news (or as Baby Herman in ‘Roger Rabbit’ put it: “like yesterday’s diaper”), the heresies which Batzing and friends voice today, without any novelty whatsoever, bore. They bore in their tediously completely full entirety. We’ve heard them too many times in too many tones, too many moods, too many stripes, patterns, and colors, before. Old news is stale and smells bad too.

    Yet Batzinger’s words surely stem from the impetus of the newness of the ever pastoral freshness of VC II. DV, Section 8, asserts that the church’s tradition “progresses.” “There is growth in understanding…both the words [of God] and the realities they signify.”

    DV (or some like Batzing) would interpret those words to apply not only to individuals who, like Mary, ‘ponder these things in their hearts’ (see Lk. 2:19, 51) but also to the church “until the day when the words of God reach their fulfilment in the church.”

    The roller-coaster ride given the church by the much misaligned VCII, resourced and reformed as a clarifying, light-filled Synod of All Evolving and Everlasting Synods, is about to visit the knowledge, wisdom, and discernment of THE spirit upon an uncomprehending, outdated, rigid, and horribly needy world.

    Buckling Up, In Christ, we remain opposed to Batzing’s sin-nod. Go Aquila.

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