Pope Francis greets Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops' conference, during an audience at the Vatican June 24, 2021. Bishop Bätzing said he assured the pope that German Catholics do not want to split from the church. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The president of the German bishops’ conference said he personally assured Pope Francis that the Catholic Church in Germany does not want “to go its own way.”

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the conference, met Pope Francis privately at the Vatican June 24 and issued a statement afterward.

“Our conversation focused first on the situation of the church in Germany in light of the processing of sexual abuse cases and the difficult situation in several dioceses,” which have recently or are about to publish reports on the handling of abuse allegations, the bishop said. “Pope Francis is well aware of the situation of the church in Germany. He hopes that tensions can be overcome.”

Bishop Bätzing also said he “informed the pope in detail” about the status of the German church’s “Synodal Path” and “made it clear that the rumors that the church in Germany wants to go its own way are not true.”

“Pope Francis encouraged us to continue on the Synodal Path, to discuss the questions at hand openly and honestly, and to come to recommendations for a change in the church’s actions.”

The decision by the German bishops and a national council of laity to design an ad hoc synodal process, different from a national synod or plenary council, and the decision to discuss issues of power, sexual morality, priestly life and the role of women in the church have led some people to comment that German Catholics were ignoring church procedures and were, perhaps, even headed for schism.

“Pope Francis encouraged us to continue on the Synodal Path, to discuss the questions at hand openly and honestly, and to come to recommendations for a change in the church’s actions,” the bishop said. “At the same time, he called for the church in Germany to help shape the path of synodality” that he asked Catholics in every nation to contribute to in preparation for the world Synod of Bishops in 2023.

“I feel strengthened by Pope Francis in my office as bishop of Limburg and in my task as president of the German bishops’ conference,” he said. “I am impressed by the balanced knowledge with which he perceives the situation of the church in Germany and puts the problems into words. Pope Francis will accompany the church in our country on the way out of the crisis.”

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

The invasion of public land by big landowners and illegal miners at the expense of Indigenous groups and small growers has led to record numbers of violent conflicts in Brazil’s rural and forest areas.
Eduardo Campos LimaAugust 02, 2021
Many are no doubt pleased with revelations that expose the hypocrisy of a Catholic priest—again. But what does this incident mean for the rest of us?
Firmin DeBrabanderAugust 02, 2021
“The stakes of getting it wrong are too high.” Immigrant advocates are voicing disappointment with recent decisions from Biden administration.
These statistics should be enough to make us want to undergo a metanoia, a change of mind and heart, and make us ask why our church is not only not a welcoming place to L.G.B.T.Q. people, but actively unwelcoming.
James Martin, S.J.August 02, 2021