Vatican and German bishops hold surprise meeting on Synodal Path
Vatican City (KNA) The Vatican and the German Bishops’ Conference have continued their dialogue on the German Synodal Path reform project, both sides said in a joint communiqué on Wednesday evening following a meeting that had been kept secret in advance.
The meeting in the Vatican on Wednesday addressed theological issues and questions of ecclesiastical discipline, which “have come to light in particular in the Synodal Path,” the statement said. The talks were held in a “positive and constructive atmosphere.” Further meetings would follow.
Observers expect a further meeting to take place at the earliest a few weeks after the World Synod, which meets in October. By then the pope’s newly appointed supreme guardian of the faith, Archbishop Victor Fernandez of Argentina, will have taken up his position. Pope Francis has appointed him head of the Holy See’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In November, six working groups of laypeople and bishops in Germany will start to press ahead with the reform demands of the Synodal Path. In addition, the controversial “Synodal Committee” is to be set up, although its financing remains unclear.
Top representatives of the Roman Curia and members of the German Bishops’ Conference last met in Rome last November to discuss fundamental theological questions.
Top representatives of the Roman Curia and members of the German Bishops’ Conference last met in Rome last November to discuss fundamental theological questions. Considerable differences had become apparent and a continuation of the dialogue had been agreed at that time, the statement said.
The three-hour meeting at the Vatican, moderated by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, was attended on behalf of the Holy See by the heads of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Bishops, Cardinal Luis Ladaria and Archbishop Robert Prevost, as well as the head of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch.
Other participants were the Archbishop Filippo Iannone, who is responsible for the interpretation of legal texts at the Vatican, and Vittorio Viola, secretary of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
On the part of the German Bishops’ Conference, the president, Bishop Georg Baetzing, as well as the bishops Stephan Ackermann, Michael Gerber, Bertram Meier and Franz-Josef Overbeck took part. Within the Bishops’ Conference, these bishops head the commissions for Liturgy, Priestly Vocations, the Universal Church and Faith respectively. The secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference, Beate Gilles and the press spokesman Matthias Kopp were also present.
The Roman newspaper Il Messaggero had on Wednesday cited an unnamed senior cardinal of the Curia as saying that there was growing concern in the Vatican about a possible schism, i.e. a division of the church, in view of the developments in Germany. The pope therefore wanted to initiate a dialogue with the German bishops “in order to gradually defuse this bomb.”