Bishop Georg Batzing © Sascha Steinbach (epa pool)
Questions of ecumenism, the blessing of homosexual couples or the reform process via the Synodal Way: again and again it seems as if the German Catholic Church wants to go its own way. Bishop Georg Batzing disagrees.
The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, sees no danger of schism as a result of the reform process Synodal Way in the Catholic Church in Germany. "Our connection with Rome and the Holy Father is very close," he told the Italian press service ACI Stampa.
He resolutely rejects the repeated accusation that "we are schismatic or want to break away from Rome as the German national church," the Limburg bishop added. The church in Germany is part of the universal church, he said. That is why it is "absolutely clear" that certain topics can only be discussed at the level of the world church.
Cardinal Ruini concerned about situation in Germany
Recently, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, expressed concern about the situation in Germany. The cardinal told the newspaper "Il Foglio" that he was particularly critical of the blessing ceremonies planned for homosexual couples in the coming days. He hopes that this will not lead to a schism, that is, a schism in the Church, but the danger does exist.
As other problem areas of the Synodal Way in Germany, Ruini addressed demands for the priesthood for women, the abolition of the obligation of clerical celibacy, and intercommunion between Catholics and Protestants. All these goals are "clearly" stated in the reform process.
Batzing, speaking to ACI Stampa, countered that the Synodal Way is "based on the principle of subsidiarity". One wants to distinguish which steps a local church can regulate for itself – and what is only possible in unity with the universal church.
Batzing sees possibility for women's diaconate
There are a number of questions to which answers must be found, the bishop said. The arguments against opening the priesthood to women, for example, proved "less and less convincing". That is why he often mentions the diaconate for women, "because I see opportunities here. In the matter of priesthood, "the popes from John Paul II onward. unanimously declared that "the answer to this question has already been given" – and that was no.
With regard to the blessing of homosexual couples, Batzing explained that there are "no easy answers" to such ies. The Synodal Way is therefore trying to discuss the topic of "successful relations" in a "wide-ranging context". "The perspectives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will find a place in these debates," the bishops' conference chairman stressed.
The Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had clearly rejected blessings for same-sex couples in a March statement.
Addressed to the Interkommunion Batzing ared that it does not concern a "general mutual invitation to the participation in the Eucharist and in the Holy Communion. Instead, she said, the focus was on "how to behave in relation to the decisions of conscience of individual Catholic or Protestant believers.".
He himself respects such a decision and does not refuse communion "if someone comes who believes in what we Catholics believe and wants to receive the Lord".