The Catholic Church in Germany is not only facing its last synodal assembly in March 2023, but also its biggest decision on direction in many decades. Reconciling the driving forces there with the clear admonitions and demands from Rome to stop German solo runs seems possible only through an immediate miracle.
If, on the other hand, the present papers are indeed adopted, they will bring Catholics in Germany into an open schism. And if they are not adopted, the wailing in front of running cameras will resume, but that’s something we might be able to survive.
Imminent, however, is actually the worst of all solutions: soft verbal appeasement and the simultaneous creation of hard facts on the ground. One could also call it a brazen attempt at deception. We are facing a diocesan patchwork of Roman and “other” (Bätzing) Catholic dioceses and parishes, which would put the Catholic Church on the path into total social insignificance.
For who still needs a Church that no longer wants to proclaim and voluntarily relinquishes the claim to truth to the much-cited “new findings of human sciences” and the sense of faith of the zeitgeist advocates? Particularly since saving-the-world ambitions and good-people vibes, garnished with the meaningless verbal cherry of “Christian values and charity,” can also be obtained in any gender-sensitive and climate-neutral non-governmental organization—and entirely without church tax, too. It is devastating to see how a two millennia-old religion that helped lay the foundations for the culture of half the globe, acquiesces to the demands of respective lobby groups, as if there were nothing left to counter with intellectually.
The driving agenda, on the other hand, is obvious: like any other social institution, the Catholic Church, in the course of its so-called reform process called “Synodal Way”, is being overrun by the same identitarian lobby that currently endeavors to make the “New Man” and his sexual freedom the top issue of the future.
It was the Bishop of Passau, Bishop Stefan Oster, who very soberly but accurately summarized that “the substantive directions of the Synodal Way in all four forums relate directly or indirectly to sexuality and/or the relationship between the sexes”.
The goal of the entire process runs like a red thread through all the measures: ultimately, the same standards of anti-discrimination and LGBT rights should apply in the Catholic Church as they do in the rest of society. More sex for everyone, and now also for priests. God is still helpful, but only if he says “yes and amen” to all stage-of-life partners. Instead, a heart for gay priests, gender language for the dear Goddess, and more sexual diversity on the bishop’s seat and in the parish office.
A hostile takeover with a system
The monarchical organizational structure of the Catholic Church is actually a bit of a dream for the modern Machiavellians among the bishops. If only it weren’t for the fact that the highest authority in doctrinal matters lies not with themselves and certainly not with the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, but with the Pope in Rome. So let us look at the “ingredients” of this hostile takeover in detail.
The practical implementation of the agenda works through two central components: the so-called “voluntary commitment” of individual bishops to new guidelines on sexual morality for their administrative area, and the equally “voluntary” adaptation of the newly adopted church labor law. Obviously, everybody knows that according to the statutes, the “decisions of the Synodal Assembly (…) of themselves have no legal effect.”
The greatest pressure, both in the Synodal Assembly and in the local dioceses, comes from the LGBT lobby movement “OutInChurch”. A sort of congregation of non-heterosexual church employees—from gay priests to young activists who call themselves “queer” or non-binary and fight for recognition of their sexual lives and relationship status—yet want to continue working for the Catholic Church. Their demand has now been met by the introduction of the new labor law, passed just two days after returning from the ad-limina visit to Rome. By now one of the leading figures in the “OutInChurch” initiative, with the blessing of Cardinal Marx, officially heads the project “Rainbow Pastoral” of the Diocese of Munich-Freising. Why cover up what can now be done officially?
This so-called “basic order of ecclesiastical service” also has only a recommendatory character and, in order to become legally effective, must be implemented in diocesan law by the individual (arch)dioceses. 21 dioceses (Aachen, Augsburg, Berlin, Dresden-Meissen, Essen, Hamburg, Hildesheim, Cologne, Limburg, Mainz, Munich and Freising, Münster, Osnabrück, Passau, Regensburg, Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Speyer, Trier and Würzburg, Bamberg, Paderborn) have already done so at the beginning of 2023. So here, as of now, lesbian women partnered in “gay marriage” with sperm donor children can lead a Catholic kindergarten or the parish office, queer activists can lead youth groups, professing gay priests can lead altar boys groups, and professing homosexuals can enter the seminary, work as catechists or religion teachers, to name just a few examples.
The pressure in other dioceses will increase. Bishops who do not go along “voluntarily” will be pilloried internally and publicly in the media.
The chaos is already taking shape. Only on paper does one still have to be a member of the Catholic Church. One could say that, as of now, membership in the “Catholic church tax community” is sufficient. In economy terms, this is as if the entire Audi marketing department was now driving to a customer meeting in a Mercedes. In the economy it is grounds for dismissal; in the Church, it is supposed to become standard. The modern Church no longer saves lost souls, only offended genders.
Reconstruction with announcement
So while changes in Catholic doctrine and faith practice are discussed theoretically on the Synodal Way and the universal Church is rhetorically lulled to sleep with the endless loop that only proposals are being discussed here, many of the demands are already being implemented practically on the ground in the dioceses today—that is, even before the Synodal Way is concluded and before final votes are taken. It is therefore completely irrelevant what is decided in March, because the transformation has already begun. We are talking not only about a simulation of synodality, but even of democracy. Everyone does what they want.
None of this is even done in secret, but publicly, with an announcement by the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing. In September 2022, at the synodal assembly, did he not announce in front of running cameras that he would nevertheless implement the rejected original text on sexual morality in his diocese, that he even expected other bishops to do the same? No sooner said than done!
In the diocese of Limburg we currently witness what happens when individual bishops say goodbye to the truths of the Magisterium in matters of sexual morality in order to place the matter in the hands of the much-cited “new findings of human science”—the new empty formula of theological teaching.
The other day, a handout was published in Limburg, with personal blessing of the bishop, with guidelines for sexual education work, which binds all diocesan employees to a sexual morality that does away with any reference to Church teachings. It instead literally recommends as desirable the blessing of all sexually conceivable couples (sexuality between “woman and woman”, “man and man”, or “between people” who define themselves as neither).
Are we to be pleased that, for the time being at least, this is limited to only two people per partnership? But by what right now are Catholics being bound to an arbitrary new morality? The paradoxical situation arises that employees who are faithful to the magisterium are on notice, while those who disregard the doctrine are henceforth protected by the same labor law. What do they face if they refuse their allegiance to the “voluntary commitment”?
The German own goal
Regarding the “voluntary” participation in the creation of new leadership structures in the form of a Synodal Council, this is the question, to which at least some German bishops have sought an answer from Rome, since the issue could apparently not be resolved on German soil among fellow bishops. Structurally, Rome may still be able to prevent the establishment of a new, pseudo-democratic church parliament, which Cardinal Kasper already very precisely compared to the establishment of a “Supreme Soviet”, but even Rome will not be able to reverse the German own goal in the matter of labor law, which has an especially dramatic effect in the interaction with further secular laws.
The federal government is, in fact, currently planning a so-called “self-determination law” that would give each person, including priests, the right to change their gender at the registry office through a purely administrative act. I’m sure there is enough malice among the protagonists of the #OutInChurch community to strategically go through with such a thing once with a priest as a matter of principle, as soon as the law is there. Simply to present the assembled Catholic world with the problem of a trans priestess.
In combination with a labor law that, according to Bishop Bätzing, states “It’s none of my business,” any “gender” could someday sue its way through all instances in the name of anti-discrimination and keep the Church legally busy for decades. Before long the future of what can be said within the Catholic Church in Germany will not be decided by theologians but by judges in Supreme Courts.
“We are not taking anything away from anyone,” Bishop Bätzing said in the closing press conference after the Synodal Way plenary meeting a year ago. If one considers religious practice, freedom of expression, and proclamation of Catholic doctrine to be “nothing,” this sentence is of course quite true.
What does all this still have to do with deep faith, Jesus Christ, salvation and real answers to the search for meaning in life? The answer is simple: nothing. The Catholic Church in Germany is currently lying down for voluntary death.
(Translated by Frank Nitsche-Robinson.)
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!