The environment and the presumable consequences of the fifth general assembly of the Synodal Way, to be held from March 9 to 11, 2023, will lead to an historic turning point for the Catholic Church in Germany. After that, the Church in Germany will no longer be what it was before.
Let us remember: the [November 2022] ad limina visit of the German Bishops’ Conference to Rome was entirely in line with the Roman directive of July 21, 2022. “The ‘Synodal Way’ in Germany is not authorized to oblige the bishops and the faithful to adopt new forms of governance and new orientations of doctrine and morals.” The contextual criticism of practically all the important points in the program of the Synodal Way was crushing. The imminent danger of schism was pointed out with straightforward clarity. The German bishops were sent home with the ultimate requirement profile of a “church in unity”, in which they were presented with a way of how local church suggestions can be fed into the renewal process of the Universal Church.
No sooner had they returned from Rome than Bishop Bätzing and others undermined the clear “no” from Rome with their own interpretation. They acted as if they could simply continue on the path they had followed so far. The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) showed not even a hint of willingness to take the Roman concerns seriously. Instead, in downright astonishing denial of reality, they keep repeating that Rome had not given the signal to stop after all!
Regarding the practical implementation of the bishops’ surrender of pastoral responsibilities (i.e. at the very core of their ministry!) to new committees with decision-making authority, staffed with laymen in equal parts, it has been announced for some time that the instrument of episcopal “self-commitment” makes it possible, without any problem, to bring about the planned redistribution of power in conformity with canon law.
Most recently, this led to Cardinals Parolin, Ladaria, and Ouellet explicitly prohibiting such simulation games in a letter from Rome dated January 16, 2022. “In forma specifica,” that is, with the explicit approval of Pope Francis, they stated “that neither the Synodal Way, nor any body established by it, nor any bishops’ conference have the competence to establish the ‘Synodal Council’ at the national, diocesan or parish level.” Bishop Bätzing then even attacked the Pope publicly.
The leading theological authority on questions of the “doctrine of the Church” (ecclesiology), the 89-year-old Cardinal Walter Kasper, was so shocked by the escalation of the controversy that on January 26, 2023 he let the public and his fellow priests in the episcopate know: “The theory of the bishops’ self-renunciation is in truth a dishonorable and inherently contradictory juggling act. Resistance to the Roman letter or its devious reinterpretation and evasion, contrary to all well-intentioned assertions, inevitably lead to the brink of schism and thus plunge the people of God in Germany into an even deeper crisis.”
Is Georg Bätzing leading the Catholic Church in Germany into schism? As things stand today, there are no longer four scenarios for the future of the Church in Germany, but only three, since the core concern of the Synodal Way—the plebiscitary transformation of the Church—has failed, and with that a scenario in which it would be conceivable for the Universal Church to follow a German vanguard concept in the long run.
The plausibility of the three currently conceivable scenarios must be examined:
Scenario 1: A path of reconciliation
- Rome acts decisively and ultimately demanding.
- The Synodal Way averts the schism, which is concretely manifesting itself on the horizon, at the last second.
- By its own act of confession, the Catholic Church in Germany subordinates itself again to the Universal Church.
- The bishops, trapped in systemic constraints, free themselves from the clutching power of the committees. They exercise their office, founded in Scripture and tradition, with full authority, as in their synodal listening to the people of God, and act as fearless shepherds.
- They overrule all decisions of the Synodal Way that are contrary to common doctrine and Universal Church law.
- Only proposals compatible with Scripture and the continuous teaching of the Church will be introduced into the worldwide Synodal process.
- All participants embark on a journey of reconciliation.
- The Church shifts her focus: instead of readjusting structures, she will turn towards “pastoral conversion” and new evangelization.
Possible options in line with canon law:
What could be done to make the Church in Germany turn back into the unity so urgently called for by the Lord (Jn 17:21)?
- For the discernment of spirits, Rome could demand a confession of faith and a formula of fidelity from all who are in a position of pastoral and doctrinal responsibility.
- Rome could appoint an outside apostolic administrator with extensive powers.
- Rome could order a general visitation of the dioceses and their inter-diocesan institutions and facilities and suspend all ongoing processes.
- Rome could resort to the “Chilean model”—effectively depose all bishops and prevent them from exercising their ministry until they are reinstated by Rome.
- Rome could launch an externally moderated, multi-annual path of reconciliation.
Positive potential of this scenario:
The reunification of a Church that, in reality, has long been divided could be the very proof of its vitality. Comparable to the results of the Council of Trent, this could gradually lead to a turnaround and a new form of the Church emerging from that painful process.
A truly synodal and spiritual Church could, like the householder in the Gospel, bring out “of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Mt 13:52). Thus the “the gray pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small-mindedness” (Evangelii Gaudium 83) would fall away from the Church, as would the dross of convention that burdens the old and frightens the young.
Catechesis at all levels could initiate a general deepening of the faith, challenging young people and attracting people who are looking for meaning. It would require that all pastoral workers (and all the faithful with them) also work towards integration into the Body of Christ and the faith of the Church. Where existential processes of “discipleship” would be needed in order to release the new dynamics of ecclesial growth, mere “retraining” or even orders to staff would effect nothing.
At the diocesan level, the new paradigm shift would mean a de-bureaucratization and a downsizing of apparatuses—a radical streamlining of the Church toward its true mission. The faithful would rediscover the joy of the Gospel and arrive at a more profound sacramental life. One might hope that spiritual vocations would grow. It would possibly also lead to more families being healed (because where there is conversion of the individual, the environment changes).
Only in this scenario would the principle of synodality according to Pope Francis have a chance to gain a foothold in the German-speaking world. Only in the context of this renewal straight from the sources of faith could one truly speak of a “sensus fidei fidelium”, as well as of a Church that listens.
Obstacles to this scenario:
The bishops would have to defend the radical change of course they are implementing before outraged laity and Church media as well as secular media, which they seem to lack the strength to do. Moreover, the structurally dominant “mid-level management” of employed laity in the Church would, in all likelihood, rebel.
The ZdK would perceive the reconciliation not as such, but as a disempowerment and defeat in the struggle for procedural power, and as a failure of their idea of a “synodal way”; they would call it an anti-democratic re-hierarchization. The committee would fear being deprived of (church tax) funds as well as the legitimation they currently claim to have to speak for “the laity”.
The public confrontations could lead to a mass exit of “structural Catholics”, i.e. baptized people without any great commitment, who were already members only “on paper”, who only want an inoffensive, zeitgeist-compatible support-church for baptisms, weddings and funerals, and who are deeply opposed to reforms.
The actually courageous actions of the Catholic Church and its bishops in this scenario would be publicly reinterpreted as cowardly caving in to Rome. The Church would completely forfeit its social status: it would possibly lose its state backing, its economic base, its university departments and many of its privileges. It would be poorer, more powerless, less protected, and, in extreme cases, would develop into a persecuted religious minority.
As things stand today, Scenario 1 is the least likely option.
Based on the Gospel, this option would be the due course. It would be unity-saving, but not capable of winning a majority and, in view of the apparent hardening of minds, illusory, since it would presuppose a 180-degree turnaround on the part of all protagonists. Moreover, Rome would have to demand and accompany this turnaround with the utmost determination.
Scenario 2: A dirty schism
- The Synodal Way passes all the papers as planned and unswervingly, without addressing Rome’s objections in substance.
- The Synodal Way, undeterred by Rome’s directive from of January 16, 2023, prepares for the installation of a Synodal Council, claiming not to break canon law, and institutionalizes a permanent committee with barely transparent competences.
- In the face of criticism, one claims to act in conformity with canon law, without the commitment and obligation of the bishops, so as to leave the “schism” unspoken. The decisions are nevertheless implemented in the course of “voluntary self-commitments” of individual bishops in their dioceses.
- Rome continues to hold the reins, but does not recognize clearly enough the schismatic explosiveness of the events and does not actually enforce valid doctrine and law with the necessary force.
- The majority of bishops continue to ignore Roman guidelines in whole or in part; they insist on a particular German way in structure, doctrine and morals. Bishops refuse in practice to make corrections to structural changes that have already been made. They consistently undermine the binding force of Universal Church teaching and instruction in questions of Church constitution and Christian anthropology.
- The common teaching of the Universal Church is replaced by plural opinions of laity and bishops on religious matters. To the same extent that a Universal Church discipline is eroded, a church-internal one is built up and enforced in a plebiscitary/totalitarian fashion.
- Effectively, two centers of power and teaching offices, coexisting in dispute, come into being: the Roman Catholic one (forced into a minority existence), and the very manifest leadership and doctrine office of the Synodal Way, which, moreover, is also pushed by secular and Church media. The “pax christiana” in Germany is thus at an end, since no person and no ecclesiastical institution can serve two masters.
Negative consequences of this scenario:
- Priests and bishops who want to remain connected to the Universal Church, as well as members of religious orders whose leadership chooses the schismatic path, fall into an existential trap, so long as Rome fails to offer them an alternative point of contact and leaves them alone with their decision to remain Roman Catholic.
They effectively have no option to leave the schismatic German structure without facing a financially existential threat of their own. Criticism of the progressive German line is sanctioned (possibly even with state aid, for instance by sanctioning state anti-discrimination agencies). Media pressure, informant systems and purges ensure that only those loyal to the line are allowed into positions of responsibility—just as the Synodal Way demands in its resolutions.
- Through the ambivalent behavior of their bishops, preachers, lay people in church employ, clergy and religious are forced to recognize the de facto procedural power of the Synodal Way: The normative power of the decisions of the Synodal Way, the new church labor law (already confirmed by 21 dioceses), and public protests make it impossible for them to act ecclesiastically in parishes, in religious education, etc., and to teach ecclesiastically according to Scripture and Tradition. They are forced to follow false teaching.
- Faithfulness to “doctrine” exacts a high existential price from faithful employees. They must leave their jobs and possibly even their homes in order to still find a connection to Roman Catholic parishes and structures. Church ministry is no longer an option for faithful Catholics. Vocations no longer find a place of devotion. Those who are in a state of free allegiance (i.e., not in church service or in leadership positions of Catholic communities, etc.) lose their faith in the institution and end up being tempted to form a kind of “underground church.”
- The process of church-internal division escalates; personal parishes, sectarian conventicles and esoteric congregations begin to form. The Church is no longer a safe place, a comforting “home.” People turn away from certain bishops and toward others. Congregations break up into parties. Believers move out of their parishes; they shun certain priests and seek those they consider “right.” Some seek sacraments, catechesis, spiritual life through unofficial channels and personal relationships. Many leave the Church altogether; others emigrate internally; they remain in the local parish out of structural compulsion, thus depriving themselves of the possibility of living in any integral form of Catholic faith at all. Families become more and more deeply divided. University departments see themselves as training grounds of hostile camps. There is a pious “civil war” with unequal distribution of power, an unmistakable series of interpersonal disputes and direct confrontations. Many existing bonds and friendships do not survive this.
- The divided Church is a church without mission. Evangelizing invitations to a life with the Church are impossible in the face of continuing disagreements. The downward trend cannot be stopped. The Church once again betrays the already lost generations of young people.
- The Synodal Way uses the World Synod to promote its unmodified positions also in the World Church.
- The German church tax comes under pressure from two sides at once: The liberals leave and refuse to be paying members in the public corporation because the demanded “reforms” do not go far enough for them and, from their point of view, seem to be withheld in an authoritarian way. Rome-oriented Catholics refuse their economic support because of suspected schismatic disobedience on the part of the bishops.
- The Catholic Church copies and institutionalizes the failed concept of the Protestant national church: a non-governmental organization of the “good guys” run by functionaries, shaped by social mainstream and therefore blurry, without promulgation but instead with a political program—and it precisely follows the path of the Dutch in the 1970s that led to the nationwide abandonment of church life. The “gestalt” of the Church disintegrates completely; no one can say what it is anymore. The relevance of the institution sinks into a bottomless pit.
- More and more people turn away not only from the Church, but ultimately from God.
Scenario 2 has negative consequences also for Rome and the Universal Church:
- The disease in the German part of the Body of Christ will spread throughout the Church like an abscess along anatomical clefts, until it becomes a systemic disease of the Universal Church.
- Rome (and the “ministry of unity”) continues to lose authority because the process of alienation from the Universal Church, which has dragged on for decades (and now culminated in the Synodal Way), is not adequately answered. More and more dioceses implant verifiable heresies under the guise of catholicity into the farthest corners of their structure. Rome’s patience is misunderstood as an invitation to teach the wrong, to train in the wrong, and to spread the wrong bluntly and with media effect. After all, there are no consequences to fear. A generation of believers is growing up to whom the true is no longer proclaimed at all and who, moreover, consider the false to be the truth.
Positive consequence of scenario 2:
This option will usher in the end of the currently fruitless consumer church with supervised members and actively promote the subjectification of believers.
Those who look for Jesus sub Petro et cum Petro will recognize the handwriting of God and a spiritual challenge in the disintegration of the external shape of the Church: Having the crutches of a passive consumer attitude and a conventional, routinized faithfulness knocked out from under him, the individual Christian will recognize his “obligation to fetch” and his responsibility in the Body of Christ.
To be Catholic will mean: to be Catholic by choice and to set out on the path of “missionary discipleship” (Evangelii Gaudium). Strong, small communities and groups will emerge, but they may have to live a kind of underground existence for decades on the margins of an institution that is in some respects corrupt and disobedient. The self-destructive process will foster the networking of like-minded people and from the rubble lead to a new intensity of Church and faith.
Scenario 2 is both the most likely, as well as the worst, conceivable option—if Rome does not act resolutely.
Scenario 2 codifies the real existing division of the Catholic Church in Germany and is the surest way to bring about its institutional end. Scenario 2 is at the same time a betrayal of the Gospel and of the faithful, for whom the Church itself is blocking the way to Jesus and to salvation. Therefore, this scenario must be prevented at all costs.
Scenario 3: The formally established schism
The schism of a particular church from the Church as a whole, formally established by Rome, is a radical measure that may be resorted to only in extreme emergencies. Such a case is given when the internal disintegration of a local church can no longer be stopped in any other way than by a clarifying cut, by which it is determined who still belongs to the Catholic Church and who has left it in regards to doctrine and practice.
The process and consequences are drastic:
- Rome makes the ultimate demand for unity in doctrine and Church discipline—according to all the measures issued so far by the Pope and the Curia.
- The majority of the bishops refuse to comply with the Rome’s requirements; they insist on a particular German way and defend this position offensively towards the Petrine office.
- Rome reacts in accordance with canon law and the Concordat by taking clear and unambiguous measures. The Pope and his staff use all doctrinal and canonical means to maintain or restore the unity of the Church.
- If the Church in Germany does not respond appropriately, the pope establishes schism according to Can. 751. The schism established per canon law has consequences with regard to Concordats and takes place on several levels. In any case, structurally it is primarily about the bishops, as the actual responsible and involved parties.
- This schism, which is now also established in terms of canon law, leads to a separation of the orthodox part of the local church, i.e. the part that is connected to Rome, from the “schismatics,” who are effectively a separate group that is no longer Catholic and are free to reorganize themselves.
- The schism is complete. Faithful Catholics come “home to Rome”; some will organize themselves as extra-Catholic, “other-Catholic,” or as a national church; many will “leave” altogether—away from any form of ecclesial or Christian commitment.
- The schism leads out of the gray area of indeterminacy. Amid dramatic losses of human and contentual substance, the “avowal” emerges as the core of Church identity (the German text uses the word “Bekenntnis”, which can also be interpreted as profession or express commitment). Here, then, an extraordinarily painful process is inextricably connected with a positive aspect: “Avowal” is demanded of every single bishop, every pastoral worker, every teacher of the faith, indeed of all the faithful.
- If it comes to the “Chilean model”, the bishops are directly affected. Rome deposes the schismatic bishops (or deposes all bishops), in order to then reinstate certain orthodox bishops or install new bishops loyal to Rome. Rome excommunicates the schismatic bishops unless they submit in obedience. When they are deposed or found to be schismatic, their pastoral office ceases as well. Any faithful, who follow them regardless, follow them into excommunication.
- Below the level of immediate regulation concerning the bishops, a dynamic could then take hold which would affect dioceses as a whole: Diocese after diocese must decide which way to go—with Rome or against Rome? For at this level, instead of an implementation of Rome’s decision, there can also be a rebellion (likewise with parishes and associations). At the level of those dioceses that do not go along with the decision but rebel, “ecclesiastical structures”—according to each party’s loyalty—then stand against each other; a kind of “rivalry” could arise, which is assessed differently depending on the ecclesiastical or the state point of view. What the Church considers schismatic deviants, the state might consider an ecclesiastical emancipation movement valuable to society as a whole.
- One level below that is the individual level, where the individual believer and the individual congregation are called upon. Altar stands against altar. Congregations decide which “church” they want to belong to. At this level, then, things become even more complex and confusing for the believer, who is most likely overwhelmed by the question of the catholicity of his congregation. The individual believer will have to make a decision one way or the other. Many will not have a choice (viz. diaspora, rural areas with only one parish).
- Financial dispute erupts: The full-blown schism, however, takes years to play out, as a complicated exploratory process now occurs at all levels. Since the unity of the Church was in many cases held together only by money, the issue now is “who owns what.” Which of the two entities should retain the status of public corporation or receive it anew? According to the Concordat, this status is granted to the Catholic Church linked to Rome. However, the situation could lead to a revocation of the Concordat by the German state and a legal reorganization. In the end, the dissidents could find themselves in the Old Catholic Church’s bed—already made under state church law—and thus take of material goods, Church buildings and the fund to pay clergy and Church employees what they need to maintain the structure.
The schism is the bankruptcy of the Church, an extreme emergency measure that could, after all, have some positive effects:
- By virtue of the cleanly drawn cut, a formal schism definitely leads to an internal church purification, to a turning away from the model of the people’s church and to a clearer definition of the ecclesiastical profiles of both parties, which now break down into discernible options between which one has to choose.
- A de facto separation is not based on conjecture, rumor, suspicion or subjective assumptions; it is officially, ecclesiastically and thus bindingly established. It gives legal certainty to all involved. It puts an end to the war of opinions and enmity among believers. Points of contention are clarified, and a perspective for constructive action is available.
- The Roman Catholic Church gets the chance to rethink its structures and priorities. It can make the sacramental constitution of the Church, its biblical heritage and its missionary dynamism shine again.
- Those who have belonged to the Catholic Church in name for decades, are perhaps even working for it, but who have long since ceased to identify with its teachings (i.e., who are effectively not Catholic), have the opportunity to abandon the lie of their lives and align the external circumstances with their internal constitution.
- At the price of a long abandoned unity, there could be a competition for the minds and hearts of the people. The “proof of the spirit and the power” (Lessing) would make the historical judgment.
- The clearest situation arises when the schism occurs through the bishops. In that event the priests, pastoral workers and the faithful suffer the least, if the decision is also implemented at the lower levels. Bishops are replaced. Structures remain in place. Those who no longer wish to remain Catholic will leave.
- The schism could (depending on the manner and the speed of ecclesiastical reorganization) amount to a devaluation of a territorially oriented parish principle that no longer functions. Spiritual centers that no longer function according to territorial principle but according to Catholic profession would partially replace parishes. Spiritual life would take a greater effort, but would be possible.
- Networking of believers will become crucial in a situation where local communion is no longer possible and the internet becomes the place of gathering for the faithful. However, this could be detrimental to those who are not connected to the digital world and its social networks, especially the elderly. They will become isolated and find it difficult to come to terms with the new situation. A “liquification” of pastoral ministry, which must become more fluid, more mobile, more present, would be the order of the day.
- By rejecting far-reaching ecclesiological and anthropological changes in doctrine and practice in the Catholic Church in Germany as heretical and inadmissible, Rome does a service to the Universal Church; the corruption cannot have a systemic effect and poison the entire body of the Church.
Scenario 3 destroys the unity of the Church.
A schism must never be provoked. It must, nevertheless, be established when the unity is already broken and the preservation of ecclesiastical identity no longer seems possible in any other way.
Church unity is “communion” in truth and love. Ultimately, this unity is a divine gift. Nevertheless, it is also entrusted to us—gift and mission at the same time. Therefore, it obliges us to strive for this unity until the end (cf. Jn 17:21). Still, there is a point where a unity that is maintained at all costs, one that is only external and outward, perverts true unity. Thus, the ultima ratio of a clean separation of the irreconcilable can be the means of choice to save the Church from its final disfigurement and by this very means preserve the real unity in truth and love.
Scenario 1 thus remains the most desirable, but at the same time, from a human point of view, hardly conceivable solution.
Scenario 2 would be the worst solution for all involved and
Scenario 3 the most bitter solution, but at least substantively the clearest.
(Editor’s note: This essay was posted in German in slightly different format on the Neuer Anfang site and was translated for CWR by Frank Nitsche-Robinson.)
Related at CWR:
• “Return to the spirit of the Acts of the Apostles”: Address of Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, to the German Bishops during their ad limina visit on November 18, 2022.
• “Speech of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Prefect to the German bishops”: The complete text, in English, of the November 18, 2022, address by Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to the German bishops during their ad limina visit.
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Are there any Catholics left in Deutschland…or just Protestants who call themselves Catholics?
Lots to absorb here! A note on just one option listed under Scenario 1 (a path of reconciliation) which reads: “Rome could order a general visitation of the dioceses and their inter-diocesan institutions and facilities and suspend all ongoing processes.”
On a microscale and for similar reasons, a Visitation was ordered for the Archdiocese of Seattle in the 1980s. As a localized test case, the unprecedented sequence of events consisted of:
(a) the Visitation by (later) brother-bishop and later Cardinal Hickey, (b) a published set of concerns and instructions from the papal nuncio (Nov. 14, 1985, plus a separate checklist of more specific corrective actions), (c) a two-year supervisory triumvirate of American brother-bishops (O’Connor, Quinn, Bernardin), (d) appointment of an auxiliary bishop with special powers, followed by (e) appointment of a co-adjutor archbishop, and then (f) the stalled retirement of the archbishop at the early age of 70.
The 1985 letter favorably acknowledged efforts to involve the laity, contact with priests, leadership in social issues, and some unfair criticisms, but then identified familiar failings in:
(a) teachings and pastoral practices (the role of conscience, the Magisterium, the nature and mission of the Church and its sacramental and hierarchical structure, a flawed human anthropology, a flawed Christology), (b) the need to present the permanence and indissolubility of marriage, (c) the need to uphold Church teaching, especially regarding contraceptive sterilization and homosexuality, (d) correct pastoral practice in liturgy and sacraments (intercommunion at weddings and funerals, reconciliation, and general absolution), and (e) the need to review ongoing education of clergy, the selection of seminarians, and exclusion of laicized priests from certain roles.
Embryonic der Synodale Weg? A partly useful test case, perhaps, but difficult to imagine scaling-up something like this as a nationwide option. Septic Germania is more like the 4th-century North African Donatist schism combined with the checkerboard 1648 Treaty of Westphalia.
What a waste of time…….
A very fine intellect, unexpectedly from a journalist. A person who would be well suited to lecture, at length, a few American cardinals Cupich and McElroy among them. Although McElroy et al haven’t formed a German style synodal Church their involvement in the universal Synod is tentatively as harmful.
“The ultima ratio of a clean separation of the irreconcilable can be the means of choice to save the Church from its final disfigurement and by this very means preserve the real unity in truth and love”. The first scenario would be the better, although Ms Kelle admits it’s highly unlikely. Reading through her arguments it’s clear that a major fault is the lack of effective intervention and leadership from Pope Francis. As indicated in his appointments to the universal Church Synod and its reprehensible agenda.
Our great Synod on Synodality is increasingly reflective of the German. If there was little intervention for the localized German what can we realistically anticipate with the universal? Birgit Kelle’s Third Scenario and conclusion may unfortunately be where we’re headed.
We have to look at Jesus’ End Game plan. To do so, we have to ask why Jesus Himself would, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed’. It seems to me that it is Jesus Himself Who has now struck the papacy. Jesus does so to, Revelation 3:15 “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”.
Jesus is presently refining the one third of the Catholic Church which He will take into His Kingdom Come of Messianic Reign as His Bride.
Zechariah 13:7 Oracles Concerning the End of False Prophecy. The Song of the Sword
Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the one who is my associate—oracle of the LORD of hosts. Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones. In all the land—oracle of the LORD—two thirds of them will be cut off and perish, and one third will be left. I will bring the one third through the fire; I will refine them as one refines silver, and I will test them as one tests gold. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people,” and they will say, “The LORD is my God.”
USCCB NABRE Bible Note for Matthew 26:31
Will have…shaken: literally, “will be scandalized in me”; see note on Mt 24:9–12. I will strike…dispersed: cf. Zec 13:7.
USCCB NABRE Bible Note for Matthew 24:9-12
Matthew has used Mk 13:9–12 in his missionary discourse (Mt 10:17–21) and omits it here. Besides the sufferings, including death, and the hatred of all nations that the disciples will have to endure, there will be worse affliction within the church itself. This is described in Mt 24:10–12, which are peculiar to Matthew. Will be led into sin: literally, “will be scandalized,” probably meaning that they will become apostates; see Mt 13:21 where “fall away” translates the same Greek word as here. Betray: in the Greek this is the same word as the hand over of Mt 24:9. The handing over to persecution and hatred from outside will have their counterpart within the church. False prophets: these are Christians; see note on Mt 7:15–20. Evildoing: see Mt 7:23. Because of the apocalyptic nature of much of this discourse, the literal meaning of this description of the church should not be pressed too hard. However, there is reason to think that Matthew’s addition of these verses reflects in some measure the condition of his community.
Matthew 24:9 The Destruction of the Temple Foretold.
Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved
Jesus is Getting Married
Maybe scenario 4 is the Pope Francis’ strategy “to make a mess of things.” Optics, not being lured into the swamp or fiddling while Rome burns. So:
FIRST, elevate the most demonstrably Catholic bishops in Germany to the level of cardinal. Their dioceses to serve as growth centers for the restored Church in Germany. (Added to Cardinal Woelki of Cologne: Archbishop Schick of Bamberg, and the bishops of Gorlitz, Augsburg, Eichstatt, Passau and Regensburg. Also the ethnic German Bishop Schneider of Kazakhstan).
SECOND, demonstrate decisively that the worldwide Synod on Synodality—said to be an “endless journey(?)”—does not resonate with der Synodale Weg which proposes a “permanent governing council” of bishops and laity.
THIRD, the brilliant German (!) Carl von Clausewitz councils against being distracted from the major event by side battles (the classic “On War”) such as Batzing’s magic show. Therefore, preemptively remove and replace moles in the major event, who by their own words seem to be carrying water for der Synodale Weg.
This would include Cardinal Hollerich who has publicly announced that he’s in bed with Bishop Batzing: “I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching [on sexual morality] is no longer true [….] I think it’s time we make a fundamental revision of the doctrine” https://www.aol.com/news/liberal-cardinal-calls-revised-catholic-135429645-181222377.html
Lots to think about, but especially to pray about.