Vatican Pressure Stalls German Bishops – Synodal Council Vote Removed from Agenda

Vatican Pressure Stalls German Bishops – Synodal Council Vote Removed from Agenda

Although not explicitly listed on the DBK assembly’s agenda, there was widespread anticipation that a vote regarding the approval of the committee tasked with preparing the Synodal Council would take place.

The Central Committee of German Catholics lay lobby (ZdK), co-sponsoring the Synodal Way with the DBK, had previously endorsed the statutes of the preparatory committee on November 25.

The absence of a similar endorsement from the bishops could lead to strong criticism from the ZdK.

Unprecedented Vatican Influence on Synodal Way

This marks a notable instance where Vatican pressure appears to have influenced the DBK’s decision to refrain from advancing a key Synodal Way priority.

Since the inception of the alleged reform effort in 2019, this represents a departure from the usual trajectory, highlighting the sensitivity surrounding the Synodal Council.

Vatican Criticism of Synodal Council

The Synodal Council has been a focal point of Vatican criticism within the broader context of the Synodal Way.

In January 2023, heads of three Vatican departments expressed concerns about the proposed council, deeming it incompatible with Catholic ecclesiology.

They emphasized that neither the bishops nor the Synodal Way possessed the authority to establish such a council.

Pope Francis reinforced this stance in a private letter to four German Catholic laywomen, characterizing the preparatory committee as a step that threatens to divert the Church in Germany from the universal Church’s common path.

Challenges Faced by the Preparatory Committee

The preparatory committee, comprising Germany’s 27 ordinaries, convened its initial meeting on November 10-11.

However, the absence of eight bishops, with four outright rejecting the committee, indicates internal divisions within the German Catholic hierarchy.

The postponement of the Synodal Council vote adds another layer of complexity to the already intricate landscape of the Synodal Way.

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