Symbolic image Church on the way © leolintang (shutterstock)
Dual leadership, dual power: The four forums on the so-called synodal path of the Catholic Church in Germany are each led by a bishop and a lay representative. This was confirmed by the German Bishops' Conference on Thursday.
According to the German Bishops' Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), ZdK Vice President Claudia Lucking-Michel will co-chair the forum on "Power, Participation and Separation of Powers" with Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann (Speyer). The vice president of the Catholic German Women's Federation (KDFB), Birgit Mock, chairs the "Sexual Morality" forum together with Bishop Georg Batzing (Limburg).
The working group on the topic of "Priestly Life" is the responsibility of the managing director of the Catholic Association for Social Services in Germany (SKM), Stephan Buttgereit, and Bishop Felix Genn (Munster). At the forum "Women in Services and Offices of the Church," whose participants the German Bishops' Conference published just a few days ago, the dual leadership consists of theology professor Dorothea Sattler of the University of Munster and Bishop Franz-Josef-Bode (Osnabruck).
Regaining lost trust
In addition, staff of the Bishops' Conference and the ZdK. The goal of the "synodal journey" is to regain trust lost after the abuse scandal and to provide "answers to the questions of our time". The exact composition of the groups can be found in an overview on the website of the German Bishops' Conference on the "synodal journey.
Only recently the composition in the forum "Women in ministries and offices of the church had become known. In all, eleven women and five men collaborate. The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, and ZdK President Thomas Sternberg had presented an initial roadmap for the reform dialogue at the beginning of July.
Status of the "synodal way" unclear
The starting signal for the actual reform talks is to be given at the beginning of December. The first big meeting is planned for spring 2020. The Bishops' Conference and the ZdK want to lay down the rules in a statute by fall. The dialogue is initially scheduled to last two years.
However, the canonical status and powers of a "synodal way" are unclear. Pope Francis, who wants to advance the synodality of the church and describes it as "a common journey under the guidance of the Holy Spirit," also stressed in a letter to Catholics in Germany that the term is still unclear and "certainly needs to be considered more deeply".