Support and criticism

Support and criticism

Consultations on reforms – synodal way © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

About one year after the start of the Synodal Way, the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) draws a mixed interim balance. According to ZdK President Sternberg, among other things, communication with Rome should be improved.

There is still strong support in Germany's highest body of Catholic laity for dialogue on the future of church life, ZdK President Thomas Sternberg said Thursday evening. At the same time, however, there was an increase in critical inquiries that lacked a broader public debate both inside and outside the Church.

"Basic frustration"

Sternberg also spoke of a "basic frustration" that is spreading among many Catholics in light of the current debates about abuse processing in the Archdiocese of Cologne and the recent cases from Speyer that have come to light. This would also have an effect on the synodal way. At the same time, Sternberg emphasized that the Synodal Way is not the place to deal with the abuse scandal. "But in the forums and in setting the topics, we are taking care of the underlying problems that made this horrible abuse possible in the first place."

ZdK Vice President Karin Kortmann announced that at the next meeting of the Synodal Way at the beginning of February, an interim conclusion will be drawn on coming to terms with sexual abuse. The abuse commissioner of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier, has been asked to do this.

At the Synodal Way, bishops and laity want to discuss the future of church life in Germany. One goal is to regain trust lost after abuse scandal. The highest body is the Synodal Assembly, which consists of 230 members, but has only met once so far because of the Corona pandemic. On 4. and 5. February, synod members plan to share ideas in an online conference.

Communication with Rome

In Sternberg's view, the synodals should also work to improve their communication with Rome. He said he has the impression that "misconceptions" about Catholics in Germany are circulating in the Vatican, such as that two roughly equal groups of conservatives and progressives are "clashing" in Germany. In the process, a large majority is ready to go new ways, he said.

Kortmann and Sternberg speak at the digital ZdK Autumn Plenary Assembly. Due to time constraints, the Catholic Committee had decoupled the debate on the Synodal Way from the rest of the Plenary Assembly, which had already taken place at the end of November.

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