“Authoritarian go-it-alone approaches”

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer at synodal assembly © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

Regensburg Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer sharply criticized the planned changes in the reform debate of the Catholic Church as an authoritarian go-it-alone of the presidium. He gave vent to his displeasure with a letter.

The announced regional conferences in the fall are neither a synodal forum nor a synodal assembly according to the statutes of the Synodal Way, Voderholzer criticized in a letter to the presidium on Friday.

Also the management structure is not clarified. Nor is the newly scheduled topic of "church experiences with the Corona pandemic" covered by the statutes, he said. This must be taken back, the planned conferences must be canceled, demanded Voderholzer.

Second meeting could also be video conference

"I am convinced that it is not compatible with the essence of a 'synodal church' when, starting from the top, without general consultation, authoritarian go-it-alone decisions are practiced that present everyone else with a fait accompli," the bishop criticized.

The second plenary meeting of the Synodal Way, actually planned for September, could easily be held as a video conference. This is now common practice, and the well-organized structure of the plenary assembly of the Synodal Way makes this easy, explained Voderholzer.

Postponement announced

The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, and the president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Thomas Sternberg, had announced in a letter to the 230 participants that, in view of the Corona crisis, the next plenary assembly would be postponed from early September to early February 2021. Instead, it should be on the 4. September there will be five regional conferences in Berlin, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Ludwigshafen and Munich with a maximum of 50 participants.

On the agenda is, on the one hand, an interim balance sheet from the "church experiences in the Corona crisis". On the other hand, the aim is to have a "concrete exchange about the work done in the synodal forums so far". Batzing and Sternberg ask synod members to "engage in this conference in five places". And further:

"Perhaps the very limitations imposed on us are also releasing new possibilities – through a different kind of encounters, insights and spiritual experiences." The end of the reform debate is thus postponed from October 2021 to February 2022.

The Synodal Way, launched by the bishops and the ZdK, is so far unique at the level of the universal church. Its purpose is to regain trust lost after the abuse scandal and explore possibilities for reform in four key areas: Power, sexual morality, priestly life and the role of women. The local bishops decide on the implementation of resolutions.

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Christina Cherry
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