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‘Truly not an easy task’: German bishops begin talks in Rome amid Synodal Way concerns

AC Wimmer By AC Wimmer for CNA

The visit of the German bishops to Rome in November 2022 began with a Holy Mass in the grottoes of St. Peter's Basilica. / German Bishops' Conference/Matthias Kopp

CNA Newsroom, Nov 14, 2022 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Amid ongoing concerns over the German Synodal Way, the president of the German Bishops’ Conference on Monday at the Vatican said unity and renewal in the Catholic Church was “truly not an easy task.”

Celebrating Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Nov. 14, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg announced the German bishops would “openly and honestly address” the topics of the controversial process during their ad limina visit in Rome this week.

Every diocesan bishop in the world is required to make an “ad limina apostolorum” papal visit to provide an update on the state of one’s diocese. Sixty-three German bishops are in Rome this week for the visit, which concludes Nov. 18, according to the German Bishops’ Conference.

Bätzing said in his homily (German text) in St. Peter’s on Monday: “Preserving unity and at the same time enabling conversion and renewal — that is truly not an easy task for our Church today.”

Several German bishops were sighted in Rome over the last few weeks in an apparent effort to prepare conversations about the controversial process.

In an interview published on his diocese’s website ahead of the visit, Bätzing said he believed it was “no coincidence that we bishops are now invited to Rome.”

The German bishop said there was “a lot of lack of understanding about our process in Rome.”

“That’s why I’m very grateful that we really have a lot of time to talk about this together. This is a real opportunity.”

The Synodal Way — Synodaler Weg in German, sometimes translated as Synodal Path — is a controversial process with the declared aim of debating and passing resolutions about four topics: the way power is exercised in the Church, the priesthood, the role of women, and sexual morality.

Writing about the process, Pope Francis in 2019 warned of disunity in a letter to German Catholics.

More recently, in early November, Pope Francis spoke about making sure to “not lose the people’s sense of faith.”

It was true, he said, that “Germany has a great Protestant church. I don’t want another one that is not as good as this one. I want Catholics to be fraternally united with the Protestant church.”

Cardinal Walter Kasper, a theologian considered close to the pope, in June warned that the German process is at risk of “breaking its own neck” if it does not heed the objections raised by a growing number of bishops around the world — and concerned Catholics in Germany.

In April, more than 100 cardinals and bishops released a “fraternal open letterwarning that sweeping changes to Church teaching advocated by the process may lead to schism.

In March, an open letter from the Nordic bishops expressed alarm at the German process. In February, a strongly-worded letter from the president of Poland’s Catholic bishops’ conference raised serious questions.

Bishop Bätzing has repeatedly dismissed any and all concerns, instead expressing disappointment in Pope Francis in May.

Two months later, in July, the Vatican issued another warning of a new schism from Germany coming out of the Synodal Way.

Ahead of the visit this week, Bätzing said he would not appear primarily as the German bishops’ president in Rome but as bishop of Limburg, CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported.

“The current situation of the Church is very challenging,” the bishop said.

“It hits me personally very hard that so many people are leaving the Church. In doing so, they are casting a vote and showing me that they no longer agree with the way the Church presents itself. The reasons are certainly varied and, for the most part, justified. Nevertheless, there are reasons to stay.”

Seven years ago, Pope Francis lamented the “erosion” of the faith in Germany: At the last visit of the German bishops to Rome in 2015, Pope Francis called on them to pay greater attention to the sacraments and to diligently perform their “function as a teacher of the faith.”

“Excessive centralization, instead of helping, can complicate the life of the Church and her missionary dynamic,” the pope warned the German prelates in November 2015.

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  1. For Bishop Georg Bätzing not an easy task. German CNA reporter AC Wimmer international journalist knows how to set up a an undeclared portrait of reality. Card Kasper warns the Synodaler Weg, You’ll break your necks! Francis, Too much centralization does not lead to good ends [spoken by a cognoscenti].
    Despite the fiery warnings, Herr Bätzing, “The current situation of the Church is very challenging. It hits me personally very hard that so many people are leaving the Church. In doing so, they are casting a vote and showing me that they no longer agree with the way the Church presents itself”. What a man for so unenviable a task. No being there for him whatsoever. Ah, the pathos of it all.

    • The solution: remove all Germans from the episcopacy in Germany and replace them with bishops from Poland, Hungary, and countries in Africa. And, please, include NO Jesuits, Americans, Irish, French, Italians or Spaniards, and none from Central and South America. It does seem that the world of the Orthodox Catholic Church is indeed shrinking.

      • Deacon you’re likely aware there’s a list of traditional German bishops who oppose Herr Bätzing and the Synodaler Weg among them, Card Joachim Meisner, Card Rainer Woelki, Card Gerhard Müller, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, Bishop Stefan Oster. Difficulty is they’re outnumbered by the progressives both among the clergy and within the population. A strong orthodox pope might have saved the German Church from what appears complete dissolution, except for pockets of traditional bishoprics. We hope for a turnaround.

  2. In the interests of not-easy unity within cultural diversity, Batzing reminds me of the double-speaking cannibal as he “walked together” with his guest: “I’d like to have you for dinner.”

  3. I wonder if the Pope excommunicated them and installed new bishops, would these guys have to give up their luxury church tax funded lifestyle?

    I have a feeling that the German Synodal process has a lot to do with maintaining the status quo in regard to tax money and the hordes of “professional Catholics” who make very nice livings off of the Church. Without the government church tax, the Church in Germany would be dead. It’s nothing but an empty shirt.

  4. The task is straightforward, however for the unrepentant enemies of Jesus impossible!

    Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”

    1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

    Jude 1:7 Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

    1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    The defiant take no heed for they are far from Jesus. They like all the benefits of the church, yet will not take the obligations, duties and responsibilities to heart. Let us pray for them that the Holy Spirit turns their heart.

  5. “Bishop Batzing has repeatedly dismissed any and all concerns. . .”
    But he does notice that people are voting with their feet. He can’t seem to connect the dots. I’d point him to today’s article (Nov. 15) in The Catholic Thing”.

  6. The anti-christ-church-of-viceroy-bishops-and-cardinals exists for the sake of its self-shepherding bureaucracy, and the synod-promoting-idolatry-and-sinfulness is the mass grave they dig for themselves. Herr Batzing is right to note how hard their destination is for them…digging is just hard, hard work.

    I pray that the faithful Catholic people suffering in Germany escape these frauds.

    • If a man is his own god, he will not bend the knee to the creative God of the universe. What have you created out of nothing, recently?

      Isaiah 45:5 I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me,

      Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

      Though you may not know Him, Christians would be delighted to introduce Him! Who knows, you just might like the ides!

      Genesis 1:1-In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. …

      Prayers and blessings for you.

  7. Deacon Peitler above – I like your solution but I’m sure you are aware there are a few worthy American bishops, as well as some hailing from countries you have blacklisted. There might even be a few worthy Jesuits, but, I agree, that gang needs to go through an extended period of penance before making it back on the up-for-consideration list.

  8. Batzig gives away the game in this article. When a bishop says the reasons why people are leaving the One, True Church are “for the most part, justified,” it is immediately clear that he has lost his faith and should resign. No successor to the Apostles worthy of the title would say this.

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