Slogans in the Synod: Reform Now! We are the Church and Women Fight for Their Rights. Photo: Synodal Weg

Pope’s Harsh and Scathing Words: “The German Experience Doesn’t Help. It’s Not a Synod or a Serious Synodal Path

“The danger is that something very, very ideological is filtered. And when ideology gets into ecclesial processes, the Holy Spirit goes home because ideology [suffocates] the Holy Spirit,” said the Pontiff.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 28.01.2023).- Since the beginning of the so-called “German Synodal Path,” the Holy Father avoided pronouncing himself on it, and when he was asked about it, he  referred to a letter that he himself wrote and sent to the German Bishops.

In the Pope’s interview with AP last January 25, the Holy Father was asked about the German situation. The journalist addressed the question in the context of — according to her — an alleged “strong resistance to the whole ‘Synodal] process because [people] see what is happening in Germany, where same sex couples are blessed, etc. And here question was “How to reconcile the need to develop, listen and accompany with a Vatican that often is the one that also puts on the brakes?”

Pope Francis answered the question directly and, contrary to just sending the letter previously alluded to, as happened in the past, he said: “The German experience doesn’t help, because it’s not a Synod, a Synodal Path; it’s a so-called synodal path, but not of the totality of the People of God, but carried out by élites and, about this, I take care to speak much, but I already wrote a letter that took me a month to write. I wrote it only and, when I’m asked [about this], I say “go back to the letter.’”

As part of the answer he Pontiff recalled the meeting in Rome between the German Bishops and some Cardinals of the Roman Curia, where the topic of the German Synodal Path was addressed, “Then I had a meeting with them here and now the Congregation for Bishops, the Doctrine of the Faith and the State Secretariat have made a point about three or four things that came up in the dialogue here. The Synodal Path in Germany is starting from people’s dioceses. This was somewhat elitist and doesn’t have the procedural consensus of a Synod as such. The Holy Father added that “in any case, there is dialogue and dialogue must never be broken in order to help, no? But the German Synodal experience is beginning or has begun in all the Bishoprics, as all are, with the People of God, and it goes forward. The danger here is that something very, very ideological is filtered . And when ideology gets into ecclesial processes, the Holy Spirit goes home because ideology [suffocates] the Holy Spirit. In any case, where there is dialogue, they have good will, they don’t have bad will. It’s a method that is, perhaps, very efficient. How curious.” 

Finally, referring to things that part of the German Episcopate says it wishes to resolve, Pope Francis said: “but you resolve this on the basis of what criterion? On the basis of your ecclesial experience, taking from the Tradition of the Apostles and translated it to today, or on the basis of sociological data? The problem lies there — the underlying problem. However, one must have patience, dialogue, and accompany these people in their real Synodal Path and help this more elitist Path so that in no way it ends badly, but that it is also integrated in the Church. [We must] always try to unite.”

Just two days before the interview, the German Episcopate announced officially on its Web page that it would go ahead with an initiative previously prohibited by the Vatican. 

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