Mixed reactions after last Catholic reform meeting
Many would have wished for more, but the Catholic reform process Synodal Weg was a respectable success – at least that is the conclusion of those responsible. But there are also more critical voices.
The results of the process of reforming the Catholic Church in Germany, which concluded on Saturday, have drawn mixed reactions. The two organizers, the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), drew a predominantly positive conclusion. “The synodal path worked – despite all the crunch and all the prophecies of doom,” said DBK chairman Georg Bätzing on Saturday after the conclusion of the fifth and last synodal assembly in Frankfurt/Main. “We haven’t been able to decide everything yet, but the course has been set.”
Irme Stetter-Karp, the President of the ZdK, the representative of lay people, was a little more cautious. The synodal path has led to a new culture of discussion, she praised. However, the following also applies: “We have not managed to really change the structure of the Catholic Church in Germany. Three and a half years were not enough.” Therefore, in the next three years, a synodal committee is to prepare a synodal council in which clergy and laity will continue to make decisions together in the future. One problem, however, is that the Vatican has so far rejected such a body.
The reform movement “We are Church” evaluated the result as a “decisive step towards a synodal church worldwide”. Despite all the disappointments, it is a “worldwide exemplary process” that must continue. Despite repeated attempts to slow down the Vatican and the Pope, the synodal path passed its baptism of fire.
Maria Flachsbarth, the President of the Catholic German Women’s Federation (KDFB), particularly highlighted the acceptance of the text “Women in sacramental offices” as a success. “This will open the door to the diaconate a little more for women,” said the former member of the Bundestag and State Secretary.
Podschun: Hopes of many young people disappointed
The Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) drew a mixed conclusion. Federal Chairman Gregor Podschun emphasized that the resolutions on blessing celebrations for homosexual couples, on gender diversity and on strengthening women in sacramental ministries are important steps. “The synodal path has moved something, but it has failed at its core.” The hopes of many young people in particular for real change have been disappointed. “Unfortunately, discriminatory structures are deliberately maintained,” criticized Podschun.
The theologian Daniel Bogner told the German Press Agency that, on the whole, the reform process had only brought “small steps”. Ultimately, the synodal assembly shied away from creating mechanisms for the binding and permanent participation of all believers in decision-making processes. “The start of the exit from the monarchist understood office in the Catholic Church, which does not provide for any separation of powers and their control, has failed – and with an announcement.”