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Did the Vatican ‘snub’ German bishops over Synodal Way?

AC Wimmer By AC Wimmer for CNA

Facing the German bishops in Rome, Nov. 18, 2022: Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, SJ, prefect of the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state; and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, PSS, prefect of the Dicastery of Bishops (from left). / Vatican Media

CNA Newsroom, Nov 21, 2022 / 10:04 am (CNA).

On Saturday, a president of the German Synodal Way accused the Vatican of “snubbing” German Catholics.

Irme Stetter-Karp is president of the Central Committee of German Catholics and co-president of the Synodal Way.

In a statement released Nov. 19, the laywoman said that the “fundamental criticism of the Synodal Way” raised last week by the Vatican “not only snubs the German bishops, who overwhelmingly consider reforms necessary. It also disregards the impatience of many Catholics with their Church.”

Pope Francis meeting with the German bishops at the Vatican, Nov. 17, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis meeting with the German bishops at the Vatican, Nov. 17, 2022. Vatican Media

Sixty-three German bishops were in Rome last week for talks with Pope Francis and the Roman Curia.

A joint statement issued by the Holy See and the German Bishops’ Conference on Friday spoke of dialogue and patience — but otherwise showed there was little agreement between the Vatican and the German prelates over the process that has raised worldwide concerns and warnings of a new schism coming out of Germany.

‘Catholic in a different way’

The German Bishops’ Conference president, Bishop Georg Bätzing, told journalists at a press conference Saturday morning that there was no departure from Catholicism intended. Instead, he said, supporters of the Synodal Way wanted to remain Catholic, “but we want to be Catholic in a different way.”

Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau was one of the first bishops to speak out after the visit to Rome.

He emphasized that there had been “no concessions at any point” to the German process.

Oster also noted the absence of Pope Francis at the Friday meeting, “contrary to our expectation and contrary to the first announcement.”

The fact that the pope did not participate in the meeting with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the heads of some other dicasteries — despite being announced originally — was seen by the president of the German Bishops’ Conference as a positive.

Grateful for lack of clarity

Bishop Bätzing, of Limburg, said: “The pope is a clever Jesuit. He let us wrestle with one another as brothers.”

Bätzing said some German bishops had sought “clarity” over controversial resolutions of the Synodal Way, asking questions to get “clear answers” to questions, in the sense of “is it possible or not?”

Bätzing said: “And there was no clear answer. I am grateful for that.”

Bishop Georg Bätzing and ZdK president Irme Stetter-Karp at the Synodal Way assembly in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 8, 2022. Synodaler Weg / Maximilian von Lachner
Bishop Georg Bätzing and ZdK president Irme Stetter-Karp at the Synodal Way assembly in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 8, 2022. Synodaler Weg / Maximilian von Lachner

Though the Roman Curia might once again summarize “its objections, its concerns” of the German process, the Synodal Way had made its decisions, also concerning a permanent Synodal Council, Bätzing added.

The Vatican intervened in July against such a body, warning of a threat of new schism from Germany.

Bishop Oster on Friday said the Vatican prefects, especially Cardinal Luis Ladaria, who heads up the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Dicastery for the Bishops, had “made it very clear that, on the one hand, they want to continue to be in dialogue with the bishops in Germany, as well as about the decisions and results of the Synodal Way in Germany.”

At the same time, Oster said, he “did not perceive any concessions at any point, but rather clear opposition from both of them” on the essential issues. These included, Oster said, moral teaching and the role and structure of the Church.

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  1. About the snubbing, history will record that the German ploy to maneuver the pope into either acquiescing or creating martyrs, has failed.

    Instead, the ambiguous agenda to “be ‘Catholic’ in a different way”—the Bats-sing lyric—reminds us of what is found universally (!) in bat caves around the world. Mountains of guano several hundreds of feet deep, in Latin America, the Philippines, the Grand Canyon and Europe, etc.

    The ad limina message is not lacking in clarity: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

  2. Time for these so called leaders to leave the Church. either of their own accord or by dismissal. Papa is weak and surrounds himself with men easily swayed by his predilections.

    All men need to stand up for Jesus, especially the leadership, yet there seems to be a dearth of respect from the same! Let the faithful proclaim the name of jesus.

    Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

    2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

    Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

    Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

    Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

  3. Interesting idea. To be Catholic — but in a different way.

    What way?

    The way in which you can now commit your entire life to your own personal orgasmic pleasure in concert with anyone or anything else you please — e.g., British royals, adolescent girls, pets, electronic apparati, balloons, footwear, circus folk, ad infinitum.

    The way in which you can completely separate sex and procreation, so that your wonderful new commitment to your own personal orgasmic pleasure can be enjoyed without consequence or accountability, while assuring yourself that in reality your child is nothing more than a mass of cells and therefore doesn’t exist.

    The way in which you have become your own god, doing whatever you wish to whomever you wish, without giving a thought to any morality or any law higher than your own appetites and desires.

    Yep. That’s certainly what I would call “Catholic in a different way.”

    A diabolical way, to be precise.

    No wonder the faith is dead all throughout Europe.

    • “The time is out of joint. O cursed spite,
      That ever I was born to set it right.”
      (Hamlet. Act 1.5)

      “Document forty-one.” Archbishop Gagnon interrupted Pope John Paul 1st’s muted stillness and placed his index finger on the top of the page, “His Eminence, Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio; Document forty-two: His Excellency, Bishop Annibale Bugnini.”
      (Page 123, Murder on the 33rd Degree – The Gagnon Investigation into Vatican Freemasonry by Charles Theodore Murr)

  4. Pope Francis needs to anathematize German Bishops, for the Spiritual protection, and unity, of the Body of Jesus’ Universal Catholic Church, so that Satan does not pull the whole Body of Christ’s Church into hell.

    Matthew 18:9
    If your eye is your downfall, gouge it out and cast it from you! Better to enter life with one eye than be thrown with both into fiery Gehenna.

    Luke 11:34
    The lamp of the body is your eye. When your eye is sound, then your whole body is filled with light, but when it is bad, then your body is in darkness.

    The “eyes” of the “body” of Christ’s Church, are our Catholic Church Leaders. Jesus Commands His Church, that if Her eye is Her undoing, She is to gouge it out and cast it into hell. Catholic Anathema is Jesus’ lips binding sinners to their sins, which cuts evildoers off from the body of the Church and casts them into hell, for the protection of Jesus’ Church on earth.

    Matthew 18:5
    “Whoever welcomes one such child for my sake welcomes me. On the other hand, it would be better for anyone who leads astray one of these little ones who believes in me, to be drown by a millstone around his neck, in the depths of the sea. What terrible things will come on the world through scandal! It is inevitable that scandal should occur. Nonetheless, woe to that man through whom scandal comes! If your hand or foot is your undoing, cut it off and throw it from you! Better to enter life maimed or crippled than be thrown with two hands or feet into endless fire. If your eye is your downfall, gouge it out and cast it from you! Better to enter life with one eye than be thrown with both into fiery Gehenna.

    the formula of anathema which ends with these words: Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N– himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate….”
    …He who dares to despise our decision, let him be stricken with anathema maranatha, i.e. may he be damned at the coming of the Lord, may he have his place with Judas Iscariot, he and his companions.
    Quoted from: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia – Anathema

    Matthew 18:17 Fraternal Correction
    “If he ignores them, refer it to the church . If he ignores even the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. I assure you, whatever you declare bound on earth shall be held bound in heaven, and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be held loosed in heaven.

    Tell the schism German Bishops to take their pope voting Cardinals with them when they leave. We don’t want that refuse, who are liberals out to destroy Christ’s Church, left behind in the Vatican. We can re-evangelize the pagan nation Germany.

  5. Can we give P. Francis a little credit to make up for the disparaging comments on this site for trying to keep the German church within the fold and not push them into another sect of heresy. We should applaud him for his ‘snub’ while still encouraging dialogue.

    • Dear Edward;

      If we transgress the laws of the church and try to run wild, we are of no benefit to the eternal soul of another.
      To adhere to the laws of physics has its own blessings and rewards too.

      God bless you as you strive for truth and the honour of the Church.


  6. Complexity. Nothing is simple as in the [alleged] days of the Baltimore Catechism.
    Take Bishop Stefan Oster, Passau, an increasingly rare youngish German prelate more Catholic than Lutheran, unlike the Lutherisch members of the Synodaler Weg. Yet, he was the leading spokesman for the disappointed Synodalerers who were ignored by Pope Francis, scolded by Cardinals Ladaria, Ouellet. Feathers ruffled, the Synodalerers trudged back home Oster confirming neither Ladaria or Ouellet gave an inch. Was that good or bad for previously considered traditional Bishop Oster?
    Is Stefan Oster really a Traditionalist mole? Oh oh! I may have blown his cover.
    Or is Oster a Synodal Weg bit of showcasing? Whatever he is in this strange new paradigmatic world he made sure to announce the good news of no compromise.

    • Dear Fr Peter:

      Your perspective would be welcome on a touchy subject to Catholics! You mention “Lutheran” which tends to elicit wails of protests from faithful Catholics. Though I know little of the man, would you touch on one point where you feel he was mistaken?

      Thanking you once again for your service in the Lords name.


      • Well, shoot, Brian…Fr. Peter hasn’t noticed your question, so let me (plain ol’ Peter) take a fling at it…

        The case is complicated and Luther probably didn’t have horns. Had cultural and political factors been less poised, the rupturing Reformation might well not have happened at all. And yet, Luther lit the match to the haystack. Points where we see (not merely “feel”) that “he was mistaken” would include: (1) denial of all of the sacraments except Eucharist and Baptism (while redefining the Eucharist); (2) Replacement of the universal Eucharistic assembly with local and multiple sola Scriptura congregations; (3) Severing of the Apostolic Succession (and valid sacraments) by replacing ornery bishops of the Church with lay political figures; (4) Approval of the bigamy of Henry VIII and the elector Philip of Hesse—a wedge in the Sacrament of matrimony which, we might propose, today has made imaginable and then statutory the redefined parody of “marriage,” (not to mention transgender alphabet soup); (5) Also, a fateful tip away from communio and into the individualism of privatized sola Scriptura, which historians often link to the counterbalancing and collectivist trajectories of Fascism, Socialism and Communism, and probably robber-baron capitalism.

        And, then, (6) there’s the central thing about being saved by faith without works. Luther’s subjective experience and distorted message of being irreversibly “saved” flat-out, without cooperating with divine grace. Looking back over the centuries, that went well…at the front end and in the political realm, Luther encouraged the Peasants Revolt, but (7) then turned more toward the fledgling state and at the expense of some one hundred thousand exterminated souls.

        Luther was right, of course, about the way Tetzel was marketing indulgences…A coin in the cup automatically saved grandpa as a castaway in Purgatory! But, today, look at Luther’s Germany…The original abuse now twisted and magnified:

        Those who withhold the coin (viz refuse to mark the church-tax box on the federal income tax form) are automatically cast away by clericalists for “apostasy”: that is, they are denied the sacraments including Catholic burial! So much for the synodal “walking together” thingy. Instead, now in Luther’s Germany, we have a “synodal path” purporting to correct the sexual abuse crisis by mainstreaming sexual license at the expense of our baked-in natural law, sound moral theology, and the Church’s Catechism (and Veritatis Splendor) affirming moral absolutes.

        This is not to say that the Church was or is ever exempt from the need for reform. Had earlier council attempts been more successful, history would be quite different.

        • Dear Peter:

          Nice to hear from you. Thank you for a fulsome response. You must make for a lively party guest! You tend to fill the margin, leaving no stone unturned. 🙂

          If he did nothing right one might wonder why Luther’s impact was so great amongst people who wanted to know what God says and how to go about pleasing Him! Holy Scripture is God speaking to His creation. Yet, someone I respect suggested that “some Catholics are allergic to Scripture”. It seems to be born out on these pages (from time to time) indeed a smattering don’t wish to think beyond Church Tradition. Is that bad? Not necessarily!

          Spiritually is a difficult subject. An example might be the Gospel of John. For myself, it is taxing and my spiritual grown is not strong enough to contend with the depth and breadth, at this time. Hopefully God will imbue me with hunger to discern what he is saying, yet it is a struggle!

          We strive to comprehend, yet our influences and the pride which afflicts most men, limits understanding and a closer walk with God.

          Allow me to respond to two of your points, my capacity is somewhat limited. Scripture is better worded than anything I might offer.

          Luther held the sentiment that Holy Scripture was the suitable guide for the Christian. Was he incorrect? Each person will make their own determination. Reading God’s word, prayerful meditation and examining well written books and commentaries aid us and what is our purpose if not to assist others? If we don’t boost our knowledge, we are nothing but blind guides.

          CWR is a place to express our faith and help our fellow man find comfort. The magazines I read are current events of one declaration or another! To comment on matters of Christian faith would not be well received. We must thank God for CWR and the opportunity to share what God has given each one. Yes, we learn from each other.

          Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

          Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

          Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

          Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

          Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

          Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

          John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

          Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

          Blessings of insight in all godly matters,


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