BREAKING: Pope Francis intervenes in German Synodal Way, expresses ‘concerns’ about threats to Church unity


Pope Francis’ general audience of April 19, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Nov 21, 2023 / 04:55 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has expressed deep reservations about the direction of the Catholic Church in Germany, warning that concrete steps currently being taken “threaten” to undermine unity with the universal Church.

In a striking personal intervention, the pope wrote a letter to four German Catholic laywomen that was published in the German newspaper Welt on Nov. 21.

“I, too, share concerns about the numerous concrete steps that large parts of this local church are now taking that threaten to move further and further away from the common path of the universal Church,” the pope wrote in his letter, which was written in German and signed “Francis.”

Chief among the pope’s concerns is a push to establish a permanent “Synodal Council,” a mixed body of laity and bishops that would govern the Catholic Church in Germany. The pope underscored that this kind of “advisory and decision-making body … cannot be reconciled with the sacramental structure of the Catholic Church,” and referenced a previous prohibition the Vatican had issued on the topic.

Leadership of the controversial German Synodal Way recently met in Essen on November 10. They aim to establish a Synodal Council in Germany no later than 2026.

The pope proposed a different path forward for the Church in Germany.

“Instead of looking for ‘salvation’ in ever new committees and always discussing the same topic with a certain self-absorption,” the pope urged the Catholic Church in Germany to “open up and go out to meet our brothers and sisters, especially those who are … on the thresholds of our church doors, on the streets, in the prisons, in the hospitals, in the squares and in the cities.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Catholic News Agency 9058 Articles
Catholic News Agency (


  1. Are all the rosaries, penance, and liturgical priest’s prayers for the Roman pontiff during Mass having effect? Everything Pope Francis says here is true. What is absolutely necessary is for Francis to back up his words with action, that is, if there’s no compliance within a specified time. A time limit is required here because of the history of seeming duplicity.
    If the familiar pattern of verbal chastisement followed by tolerance repeats itself, it can be discounted. Christians need be aware of the difference between oration and practice. The latter will save us. Of itself the former not [words and faith alone may have been fine for Martin Luther, not for the tradition left by Christ for the Apostles, and the long sacred history of witness by our saints and martyrs]. Words can be used as deceitful weapons to anesthetize and render inert. Certainly we hope for favorable response and resolution.

  2. Finally light may be dawning about the results of his having allowed the Germans to go their merry separate way. However it sounds like too little, too late. Why does he sound like a mere powerless observer instead of a Pope with authority to call them to the Vatican and tell them to knock it off?? He has allowed them all this while to give “blessings” to gay couples. And all the ongoing blather about women deacons, etc. does he imagine they will cave to his suthority now?? After doing their own thing all this time? He has waited too long to act. Intentional?? Its hard to imagine he has been oblivious to what the Germans have been doing all this time. If he fails to hold their feet to the fire and gain their cooperation and obedience, he will be giving tacit approval to a new schism.

  3. If there were someone out there causing grief and endless turmoil while preaching joy and common pathway, what would the Holy Father do about it? What would he be able to do? Would he even recognize it? Would it matter for it to be first noticed by some close associate who then reports it to him directly? If there some such advisers, who are they? And if there is only one, who is he?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.