‘Is a new Reformation dawning in Germany?’ Initiative writes to bishops around the world

‘Is a new Reformation dawning in Germany?’ Initiative writes to bishops around the world

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The ‘Synodal Way’ began Dec. 1, 2019. / Rudolf Gehrig/CNA Deutsch.

Munich, Germany, Feb 3, 2022 / 15:25 pm (CNA).

As the opening assembly of the Synodal Way is taking place in Germany, the “New Beginning” initiative has warned of a schism arising from the country. In a letter to bishops there and around the world, the organizers describe “a spirit of rebellion” at work which betrays the gospel.

In their essay “Seven questions to the Catholic Church in Germany on Freedom and Autonomy” the initiative expressed its concern that the Synodal Way proclaims a new paradigm of radical, absolute self‐determination which may lead the Church in Germany into schism.

The initiative describes itself as an association of theologians, philosophers and anthropologists who call for radical reform in the Catholic Church, but who do not consider the German Synodal Way a viable solution.

The essay says, “The focus is no longer on the Lord ‐ his word and will ‐ but on man ‐ his will, his interests, his identity, his desires, his freedom is to determine what is the matter in the Church, what still seems plausible before the tribunal of modernity … what may and may not be taught and lived.”

The initiative asks the bishops of the Catholic Church to use their influence to prevent schism: “That Pope Leo X once dismissed the theses of Martin Luther as an irrelevant ‘monks’ bickering’ was perhaps the most momentous mistake in Church history. Exactly 500 years later, the Roman Catholic Church is once again about to play down a theological debate in a not‐too‐distant country, ignore it, and consider it a German problem. The next schism in Christendom is just around the corner. And it will come again from Germany.” 

In January the New Beginning initiative handed a “manifesto for reform” to Pope Francis, signed by 6,000 Catholics. It argued that the Synodal Way “abuses the abuse”, that is, it instrumentalizes the necessary and urgent discussions in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal to change the Church according to its agenda.

The initiative said that apart from the 67 bishops in Germany, around 2,000 bishops worldwide, as well as 500 Catholic congregations, institutions, and movements, have received an explanatory text titled “This is not the Gospel” and a theological invitation to a scientific debate: “Seven questions to the Catholic Church in Germany on freedom and autonomy”.

The group also added to these two documents a collection of quotes and statements of theologians and bishops in the process of the Synodal Way, and statements typical of the process which they say show “that its agenda is not compatible with the continuous teaching of the universal Church.”

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