News Analysis

Overlooked: German bishops sound alarm over ‘synodal path’

What happened?

German bishops have begun to speak out against the “synodal path” which the bishops’ conference has agreed to pursue.

In March, conference chairman Cardinal Reinhard Marx announced that the bishops had “unanimously” agreed to revisit Church teaching. But some are now voicing their concerns.

Why was it under-reported?

The original announcement downplayed the disagreement among bishops: it is only now that figures such as Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg have begun to express their concerns. The idea of a “synodal path” is a “fraud”, he has now told LifeSite – and he criticised the process by which it was agreed: a show of hands, from which he and others abstained. Had this been revealed at the time, it might have attracted more attention.

The “path” has also fallen off the news agenda because the details, including the timing, are not clear.

What will happen next?

As an initial step, three working groups have been set up. They will report in September, giving recommendations on the priesthood, the exercise of power within the Church, and sexual morality. On all three issues, the debate will be heated.

For instance, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg has suggested that some bishops might campaign for women’s ordination and other departures from “the Deposit of the Faith as it comes down to us from the Apostles”. This would make the synodal path “a path of destruction”, he said.