“A unique opportunity to reform”

The president of the Central Committee of German Catholics, Thomas Sternberg, continues to see the reform process of the Synodal Way in the German Catholic Church as a model of success.

"We currently have a unique opportunity for reform," Sternberg said Friday at the spring plenary meeting of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK). Never before have so many priests, bishops and laity called for changes in the Church, he said. "And in Rome we have a pope who at least formulates such reform themes."

Similar reform processes in international local churches

Sternberg also pointed out that numerous local churches around the world were embarking on similar reform processes and were also using the German model, for example in Australia, Ireland and Austria. "This shows that we are not going a special way, but that it is a world-church development."

The ZdK president also cited remarks by Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, who in an interview with the Catholic News Agency (KNA) had said he was watching the Synodal Way in Germany "with great respect because they dare to ask very big questions". However, the unity of the church must remain in view. At the same time, the president of the Commission of EU Bishops' Conferences COMECE said that the most important ie currently being negotiated by the Church in Germany was the participation of women in the Church.

"We are forced to succeed"

Sternberg admitted that he had no "exit strategy" for the Synodal Way. "We are forced to succeed," he said. Failure to do so would have disastrous consequences for the Church. He described as nonsensical accusations that the Synodal Way leads to a German national church or to a "Los von Rom" movement.

The ZdK president demanded a better information flow at the synodal way. "It was a mistake to let the work of the forums run internally," he said. At least topics, dates and course of events would have to be publicly known, so that a broader participation of the delegates and the public would be possible. In the future, forum chairs would decide what content from the forums should subsequently be published.

The Synodal Way on the future of church life in Germany was launched in 2019 and is expected to last until February 2022. Supreme body is the synodal assembly. It has 230 members, who are supposed to represent the widest possible range of church life. Four forums will focus on sexual morality, the priestly way of life, power and the separation of powers, and the role of women in the church.

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