“Church is not there for itself”

Reinhard Cardinal Marx (l.) and Thomas Sternberg © Julia Steinbrecht (KNA)

After expert opinions from the Vatican questioned the approach to the "synodal way," those responsible are determined to stick with it – and wrote a letter to Pope Francis.

Despite criticism from Rome, the Catholic Church in Germany wants to continue on its path of internal church reforms as planned. After a two-day meeting of leading representatives of the Bishops' Conference and the Central Committee of Catholics (ZdK) in Fulda, Cardinal Reinhard Marx recalled that the Church is sent to all people. "The church is not there for itself," the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference said Saturday.

ZdK President Thomas Sternberg said it was a matter of regaining trust "in order to speak credibly of our faith".

Letter to Pope Francis drafted

As the Bishops' Conference and the Catholic Committee announced, the participants of the conference in Fulda wrote a letter to Pope Francis to thank him for his letter of June: "We have looked closely at how you describe the situation in Germany; we have followed up on the indications you have given us for our path; and we have considered what consequences we have to draw," reads the excerpt published on the Internet.

One is determined, he said, to make the "synodal way" a "spiritual process". In doing so, he said, "both the unity of the whole church and the situation on the ground are in view.".

Publication of four working papers

Four working papers were published after the Fulda event, which was attended by some 45 participants: they deal with the topics of sexual morality, the priestly way of life, power and the separation of powers, and the role of women. The statutes for the "synodal way" were discussed in Fulda, but not published. This paper is to be the basis for deliberations during the fall plenary session of the Bishops' Conference on 23. to 26. The conference will also be held in Fulda on September 1 and must also be discussed by the ZdK.

Both bodies must approve the procedure so that the two-year "synodal journey" can begin on schedule in December. In a letter dated 4. On September 7, the head of the Congregation of Bishops in the Vatican, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, had admonished the German bishops not to arrogate to themselves any decision-making authority for questions that could be decided solely at the level of the universal church.

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