The President of the German Bishops Rebukes Pope Francis for Criticizing the Synodal Way

“It’s not Catholic”

Confirming the Vatican’s warnings, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, stated unequivocally that German pressure for a synodal council was unacceptable, CNA Deutsch reported.

“If this is how the Church in Germany is to be governed in the future,” he said, “I have already made it very clear to the bishops [during the ad limina visit in November]: It’s not Catholic.

Speaking to Spanish magazine Omnes, Ouellet said a synodal council “may be the practice of other churches, but it is not ours.”

Such a German council “would not correspond to Catholic ecclesiology and to the unique role of bishops, which derives from the charism of consecration and which implies that they must have the freedom to teach and to decide”.

Regarding attempts to get German bishops to voluntarily “give up” their authority to a new council or other oversight body, Ouellet said, “The truth is that it is not possible; it would be a renunciation of the episcopal office.

On January 30, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had accepted Ouellet’s resignation at the age of 78, more than three years past the usual retirement age for bishops. He will be replaced by Bishop Robert Francis Prevost, 67, as of April 12. It remains to be seen how Prevost will handle the German controversy. The American Prelate has served as Bishop of the Diocese of Chiclayo in Peru since 2015. As Prefect, he will lead the Vatican office responsible for evaluating new members of the Catholic Church hierarchy.

“On the brink of schism”

Cardinal Walter Kasper also warned the German bishops that they could not circumvent “the authority of the pope and ultimately of the Second Vatican Council” or be undermined by “tricky reinterpretation.”

A bishop cannot “subsequently renounce, in whole or in part, the authority conferred sacramentally in the succession of the apostles” by binding himself to a synodal council “without violating the responsibility conferred upon him personally,” Kasper stressed, according to CNA Deutsch.

“Rome’s resistance to the letter, or underhanded attempts to reinterpret and avoid it, despite all well-meaning protests, inevitably leads to the brink of schism and thus plunges the people of God in Germany into an even deeper crisis. .”

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According to Ouellet, it was now important for the Holy See to continue the dialogue with the German bishops.

“We will see how the dialogue will continue,” the cardinal said, adding that it was now Bätzing’s obligation to respond to the letter approved by Pope Francis.

“Then we will see how to continue the dialogue, because it is obvious that it must be continued, also to help them stay in the Catholic channel”, underlined Ouellet.

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