Vatican City, 21 October, 2023 / 8:20 pm (ACI Africa).
A German bishop participating in the Synod on Synodality challenged the idea that the Catholic community in his country is at odds with the universal Church — and reasserted that it will continue to play a role in the ongoing discussions in Rome about the Church’s future.
Speaking at the Synod press briefing Saturday afternoon, Bishop Franz Josef Overbeck of Essen acknowledged that others have expressed concerns to him regarding the Catholic Church in Germany’s controversial “Synodal Way.”
“Many people have asked me, ‘Are you still Catholics and part of the Catholic Church?”, said Overbeck, one of the German Bishops Conference’s three delegates to the universal Synod, and a major proponent of the German Synodal Way. “And I say, ‘Yes, of course, we are Catholics, and we are here to stay.”
Begun in 2019, the Synodal Way is a non-canonical initiative of the German bishops’ conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK). The collaboration approved blessings of same-sex unions, incorporated transgender ideology into Church practice, and petitioned Rome to open ordained ministry to women at its final assembly in Frankfurt in March 2023.
Pope Francis has criticized the Synodal Way as “elitist” and “not helpful,” while bishops from around the world have written to express their concern that the process could induce schism between Germany and the universal Church. Vatican officials and German bishops have held multiple meetings to discuss the Synodal Way, most recently on July 27.