“A good intermediate step”

Five places – one way: Corona forces the Synodal Way to split up the second round of discussions. For ZdK President Sternberg, this step brings not only disadvantages.

Interviewer: You represented the presidium of the Synodal Way at the regional conference in Dortmund. What is their conclusion of the day?

Prof. Dr. Thomas Sternberg (President of the Central Committee of German Catholics): I already had the impression that the papers were very positively received, we really heard a broad approval here, but also a problematization, in part also the desire to appear even more clearly. Overall, it must be said, the Dortmund regional meeting showed that here at least we have not had sharp opponents of the process and the texts. No one has come forward now and really taken a massive counter-position. Basically, we talked about these texts in very different ways, but in agreement with each other. I haven't seen any fundamental opposition here.

Interviewer: These five regional conferences are an emergency Corona solution. Has the calculation worked out?

Sternberg: The regional conferences have proven their worth. These are basically five working groups of the Assembly. With 50 people, it is possible to talk to each other in such a way that a list of speakers is actually completely worked through. We had with the 75 minutes that we talked about the Corona topic, with the almost 100 minutes that we had each for the two forums, with the introduction already in the morning so much time that you could really discuss out. This is of course not possible with 230 people. In this respect, this was a very good intermediate step, which was of course born out of necessity, but which has proved very successful. We have indeed five places, the way remains, and the way is the same.

Interviewer: You say that there was no "fundamental opposition" here in Dortmund. Asked the other way around: don't you also have to actively confront the other side in order to move forward in the debate?

Sternberg: I don't think there is another side. I have already said this several times. We have very few, very individuals in the synodal assembly who are really fundamentally against all this. Let me remind you again: the process was unanimously decided by the Bishops' Conference, then unanimously approved by the Central Committee of German Catholics, and unanimously the statutes were passed in both bodies. That is, we are not in some situation here where there are two sides, even though I could imagine that would be much nicer for journalists to do that. Over 90 percent of the synodal men and women want to move forward. Of course, they do not agree on everything. That is without question. They want to discuss, also argue. But they are united by the conviction that this is the right way to go. Here in Dortmund we had none of this fundamental opposition. One will hear what was in other places.

Interviewer: What will you take with you from Dortmund for the upcoming discussion in Rome?? Bishops and lay people have been invited to the Vatican for a clarifying discussion to clarify, among other things, the role of the laity in parish leadership.

Sternberg: What I take with me is simply to tell what is the case here. And I have to say, if Sr. Dr. Katharina Kluitmann, the president of the German Conference of Superiors of Religious Orders, tells us: "Be careful that you do not spend too much work, care and effort on not hurting anyone on the right fringe for God's sake, and at the same time accept that on the other fringe people leave the church en masse, then that is a request that has already gotten under my skin a bit.

Interviewer: Cologne's Auxiliary Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp has withdrawn from the Synodal Forum "Living in Successful Relationships – Living Love in Sexuality and Partnership ", but continues to participate in the Synodal Way, what do you say about it?

Sternberg: I found the departure of Auxiliary Bishop Schwaderlapp very consistent. If I think there is nothing to change, then there is no reason why I should participate in a forum that is about such changes. If I have the idea that there is a wonderful and concise doctrine that only needs to be properly communicated so that it is recognized in its beauty, it is probably better not to participate in a forum that wants to take care of reforms. In this respect, this is a consistent and very comprehensible, reasonable step. However, I have the impression that a large majority of people say that a doctrine that is so out of touch with the reality of people's lives is of no interest to anyone. It needs to be reformed. And by the way: The Pope himself in "Amoris Laetitia" has probably very consciously and with very precise calculation not written down the catechism again, but has made completely different approaches, taken completely different perspectives. When you read this, it becomes quite clear that we urgently need changes in the question of regulations.

The interview was conducted by Renardo Schlegelmilch

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