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Women’s ordination, transgender ideology move forward at German Synodal Way

Delegates at the fifth assembly of the German Synodal Way, meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 11, 2023, applaud after the he passage of a text calling for changes to the German Church's approach to gender identity. / Jonathan Liedl/National Catholic Register

Frankfurt, Germany, Mar 11, 2023 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Delegates of the German Synodal Way on Saturday overwhelmingly passed measures to change Church practices based on transgender ideology and to push the universal Church to ordain women to the sacramental diaconate.

The votes took place on the final day of the process’ concluding assembly, held in Frankfurt March 9-11. On previous days, delegates voted overwhelmingly to adopt same-sex blessings, normalize lay preaching, and ask Rome to “reexamine” the discipline of priestly celibacy.

While the Germans pushed forward with these controversial measures, the assembly held back from crossing a line laid down by the Vatican concerning the establishing synodal councils at the national, diocesan, and parochial levels. The Vatican has said the synodal council model, which involves shared governance between bishops and the laity, is not consistent with Catholic ecclesiology.

The synodal assembly decided to delay voting on the proposal. Instead, it will be considered by a newly established synodal committee over the next three years, while Synodal Way leadership attempts to change the minds of Vatican officials and garner more widespread approval in the universal Church.

At the concluding press conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the bishops’ conference, said that the results give a mandate to the bishops to make some changes in Germany now while pushing for broader reform.

“The Church is visibly changing, and that is important,” Bätzing said.

Irme Stetter-Karp, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), said the results show that the synodal path in Germany will continue.

“It does not end here. It is just the beginning,” she said.

Observers, including 103 international bishops who signed a letter warning that the Synodal Way could lead to schism, have expressed concern about the heterodox ideas promoted by the process and the effect it could have on the wider Church if the Vatican does not sufficiently intervene.

Vote on gender ideology

The implementation text “Dealing with gender diversity” passed with support from 96% of the 197 voting delegates. Thirty-eight bishops voted for it, while only seven voted against it. Thirteen abstained from voting.

Consistent with a pattern running throughout the assembly, there would have been enough votes to block the measure if those abstaining had voted against it. Critics of the Synodal Way say that organizers’ removal of the secret ballot has created a fear-driven atmosphere that has prohibited many bishops from voting freely.

The resolution calls for “concrete improvements for intersex and transgender faithful,” including changing baptism records to match someone’s self-identified gender, banning one’s gender identity from consideration for pastoral ministerial roles, and mandatory education for priests and church employees to “deal with the topic of gender diversity.” Intersex refers to people born with mixed sexual characteristics.

The text also bars “external sexual characteristics” from being used as a criterion for “accepting a man as a candidate for the priesthood,” a measure that could open the door for attempted ordinations of women.

During the debate, a small minority of bishops voiced opposition to the measure, while emphasizing that the Church should improve its pastoral care of those identifying as transgender. Auxiliary Bishop Stefan Zekorn of Bistum Münster said he could not support a text based on gender ideology, while Bishop Stefen Oster of Passau said that the document failed to emphasize that a Christian’s primary identity should be rooted in Jesus Christ.

But the vast majority of those who spoke expressed support for the measure. Gregor Podschun, the head of the heterodoxical Federation of German Catholic Youth, said the claims of gender ideology were “a scientific fact,” and that the Church’s denial was causing people to commit suicide. Julianne Eckstein, a professor of theology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, claimed that the book of Genesis was an inadequate basis for questions of sexual anthropology. And Viola Kohlberger, a young adult from Augsburg, said that there is no “norm” for gender and that the tradition of the Catholic Church was holding back progress.

“And I would like to break it today,” she said.

When the vote passed, delegates stood to applaud, while some unfurled rainbow flags expressing support for homosexuality and transgender ideology.

Support for women’s ordination

Delegates passed the implementation text “Women in sacramental ministry: Perspectives for the universal Church dialogue” by a similarly large margin. Only 10 of 58 bishops voted against the measure, which calls for the German bishops to advance the issue of the sacramental ordination of women at the continental and universal level of the Church.

A motion adopted by the assembly replaced a call for the establishment of a “sacramental diaconate of women” with “opening the sacramental diaconate for women.” The distinction made clear that the Synodal Way is pushing for women to be integrated into already existing holy orders, an idea the Church has repeatedly affirmed is impossible.

Delegates adopted another motion that modified priorities related to the all-male priesthood, calling for the practice to be simply reexamined, rather than ended, at the universal level of the Church. Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising said that the motion was needed to “build consensus” for changes to the Church’s dogmatic teaching related to the priesthood.

Others were less interested in the slow approach. Several women delegates were seen in tears after the vote, saddened that the text did not more explicitly call for female priests.

“Discriminating against someone because of their gender must be put to an end in the Catholic Church,” said delegate Susanne Schumacher-Godemann.

“The patriarchy needs to be destroyed,” added Podschun.

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg spoke up in opposition to the text, characterizing the push for ordaining women to the diaconate as “a first step toward opening up” the priesthood and the episcopacy, too.

The Regensburg bishop, a close friend of Pope Benedict XVI, is one of only three German bishops to have publicly voted against each of the Synodal Way’s controversial texts.

The synodal assembly also elected 20 members to the transitory synodal committee that will work over the next three years to prepare for the establishment of a permanent synodal council at the national level. The 20 elected members, which consisted of 19 laypeople and one auxiliary bishop, will join the 27 bishops who head dioceses and 27 members of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) already on the committee.

The Synodal Way, which began in 2019, has been a collaborative effort between the ZdK and the German bishops’ conference.

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  1. We read: “Gregor Podschun, the head of the heterodoxical Federation of German Catholic Youth, said the claims of gender ideology were “a scientific fact…” Four points:

    FIRST, gnome research (real science!) reports otherwise:

    SECOND, researchers who originated the notion that transgenderism is physcologically helpful (as in preventing suicides), are the same researchers who corrected this report in the following year:

    THIRD, a bit of science that applies to everyone, inclusive (!) of gender theory devotees, there’s the psychology of self-deceit. A recent study completed at University College London (using MRI technology) strongly implies that a habit of lying tends to suppress the part of the brain (the amygdala) that responds emotionally to a “slippery slope” pattern of small and then larger lies (Garrett/Ariely/ Laxxaro, Nature Neuroscience Journal, October 24, 2016; reported by Erica Goode, New York Times, October 25, 2016).

    FOURTH, more anecdotal that scientific, there’s the testimony of bisexual novelist Andre Gide, as explained by one of his biographers:

    “[Gide]…emphatically protests that he has not a word to say against marriage and reproduction (but then) suggests that it would be of benefit to an adolescent, before his desires are fixed, to have a love affair with an older man, instead of with a woman. . . the general principle admitted by Gide, elsewhere in his treatise, that sexual practice tends to stabilize in the direction where it has first found satisfaction; to inoculate a youth with homosexual tastes seems an odd way to prepare him for matrimony” (Harold March, “Gide and the Hound of Heaven,” 1952).

    FIFTH, in the cause of science, perhaps the German guru Podschun and mouthpiece Bishop Batzing can supply longitudinal studies documenting at what age, and exactly how “stabilized”/locked-in and experimental adolescents fell in step with ersatz “gender theory”…

    Have a nice day, “walking together” in synodality…about which, there’s this from St. John Chrysostom: “The road to hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lampposts that light the path.”

  2. 58 bishops in Germany? The notion that a nation so rooted in secularism warrants 58 Catholic bishops doesn’t make any sense. Evangelization doesn’t seem high on their agendas, so why not “innovate?”

    • And the Catholic Church in Germany has 800,000 employees. For some 22 millions Catholics. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in the U.S. has about one million employees, but about 65 million Catholics.

      • Carl, surely you must have meant “8,00 employees” or, even at a stretch, “80,000 employees” which itself is astronomical. But you must be mistaken that it’s 800,000.

      • Can we arrive at the correct the proper ratio of prelates/parishioners? With the unfortunate state of turmoil in today’s Catholic Church, where vocations are lower along with the exodus of the “faithful”, that number is elusive.

        Pray for the retoration of the Church with God’s glory.

  3. Meanwhile, silence and inactivity from the Vatican… As others have stated, it appears that the only hope we have of an intervention by the Holy Father is if the Germans decide to promote the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass.

  4. Well, Pope Francis?


    Does radical, self-autonomy and disordered desire become the new foundation of the Universal Church?

  5. I predict that short term, the pope will attempt to import this poison slowly into the rest of the church. People will vote with their feet and stop attending their local church. They will of course keep their wallets at home with them. Following that failed attempt to insert sexual perversions as legitimate expressions of love, a schism will occur. Possibly with those faithful to REAL church teachings establishing their own Catholic church. Maybe with a Latin Mass. THAT church I believe will flourish.

  6. Well, you see, it goes like this. While the Synodaler Weg continues to commit to greater outrage after outrage [patriarchy needs to be destroyed, added Gregor Podschun, the head of the heterodoxical Federation of German Catholic Youth] hurtling toward full fledged apostasy, the Synod on Synodality leagues behind still grappling with approval of changes [Card Hollerich’s proposal to eliminate Catechism proscription of homosexuality] for further discussion, tentative adoption that trouble some of us, don’t seem so troubling. Do they?

  7. That the German bishops (and others) even entertain the possibility of women’s ordination demonstrates an apostate state of mind that should have already been dealt with harshly by Rome since it involves heresy.

    Any chance of women’s ordination was completely eliminated once-and-for-all time and in all places with the promulgation of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in 1994 wherein Pope John Paul II made it clear that the Church’s teaching on and practice of male only priestly ordination is indeed an infallible doctrine of the Church without possibility of ever being changed.

    Further, a dubium was presented on the status of and assent owed to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, and this dubium and the primary conclusion of the Response from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith approved by Pope John Paul II and dated October 28, 1995 read as follows:

    “Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.

    Responsum: Affirmative.

    This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.”

    The German bishops are sinning egregiously and are in need of what is known as a charitable anathema and serious sanctions for their defiant acts of apostasy, yet despite issuing some admonitions, Rome permits the German bishops to continue to sin freely by publicly questioning a definitive doctrine of the Faith that they heretically opine might be capable of change when such is simply not possible.

  8. Maybe Pope Francis should start wearing a striped red and white zucchetto beanie, striped red and white cassock and big round glasses because I ask the same question to myself every other day, “Where’s the Pope?”

  9. The photo caption in the article is accurate and telling:
    “…changes to the German Church’s approach…”
    Thankfully, I belong to the Catholic Church, not the German church.

  10. I think governing institutions as large and complex as the Church, or nations, when one is in their 80s is a questionable proposition. Things coming at you every day or hour. All eyes on you. All ears listening to you. Few 80s are built for that. For that matter, few in their primes are built for that.

  11. I am thinking that the lesson of the Anglican Episcopalian adoption of female clergy and same sex unions has been lost on the German Catholic Church. It resulted in vanishing congregations and plumetting revenue.

  12. I am dismayed by the lumping of the subject of women’s ordination with the topic of transgenderism. In my opinion, this delegitimizes the concerns of the role of women in the Church.

    • FYI: Catholic hosts Fr. Pokorsky who best answers the false assertion of your first sentence. Being transdender is not what? Being transgender is not being? In that sense, I agree.

      “Many think Catholicism imposes an ideal system on the life of the faithful. According to this ideological view, for Church teaching to remain relevant, it must continually evolve to keep up with human progress. The frequent demand for change in Church teaching in matters of faith and morals betrays this harmful view.

      But the Incarnation reconciles God and man in the Person of Jesus, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. God and man are reconciled in freedom, through Mary’s fiat. There is no forced compliance between incompatibles. There is instead reconciliation, the revelation of inestimable dignity of man, and his liberation from sin in Jesus.

      Hence to know Jesus means to grasp an essential reality: the mystery of ourselves in happiness with our Creator. The Catholic faith offers a universal truth-—applying to all men—that Jesus reveals to us through the Church. The Holy Spirit, received on Pentecost, animates the Church and nudges us with grace on our pilgrim way. The teachings of Jesus not only transcend all human activity and ideology. His teachings reveal the bedrock of human existence.

      The authentic and traditional tenets of the Catholic faith critique all ideologies and call for conversion to the truth of Jesus in freedom. Man is a child of God, created in the Divine image, called to virtue in this life and the everlasting happiness of heaven in the next.

      Jesus calls Christians to be the leaven or the yeast of goodness within the context of every human economic or political system (cf. Mt. 13:33). Not an ideological imposition, but a Divine mandate.”

      God bless you, Miss Dianne.

  13. External sexual/genital reproductive characteristics are matched by internal organs womb, prostate etc.
    What medical texts are these people consulting?
    The perversion of a science to fit a cause?
    Destroy «patriarchy»,bow low before the Golden Calf of matriarchy instead.
    The Universal Church particularized, atomized, vaporized…
    Arise a church fit for the New Age?

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