Mons. Georg Bätzing and Pope Francis

German Bishops’ Leader Answers Pope: It’s Questionable to Lead the Church Through Interviews

President of German Bishops Criticizes the Pope’s Statements on the German Synodal Path.

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(ZENIT News / Germany, 29.01.2023).- Yet another tension is added to thhe relationship between the Vatican and the Church in Germany. The reason on this occasion is an answer that Pope Francis gave in an interview with AP Agency on January 25. In it, the Pope expressed appraisals of the German Synodal Path, which he did not hesitate [to say] does not help and does not merit the name of Synod or a serious Synodal Path.

On Friday, January 27, the answer came from Germany in the person of the President of the German Episcopate. In an interview with Die Welt, Monsignor Georg Bätzing was questioned by journalist Lucas Wiegelmann who asked him if he had deceived Catholics as the Pope said what he said and he, Bätzing, had said that the Pope supported the [German] Synodal Path. To this the Bishop answered that the Pope did not speak to them or said anything about that when they were with him in November 2022, in the context of the German Episcopate’s ad Limina visit. He also suggested that it’s questionable to lead the Church through interviews. 

In regard to the Pope’s also insinuated description of an ideological synod, Monsignor Bätzing said he didn’t understand what he meant. “To call that now an ideological debate , where the Holy Spirit comes out, so to speak, flying from the room, what is his point?” 

Addressing the subject of the letter of the Vatican Secretary of State, of the President of the Dicastery for Bishops and of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, about not going forward with a superstructure of government made up of lay people and Bishops for the whole of Germany, Monsignor Bätzing said that “they no longer want to see the systemic causes, the antecedents and the factors of this scandal” (that of the abuses).

And he also said that the Pope understands something by Synod and they another. “The Pope understands it as a wide recollection of impulses from all the corners of the Church; then the Bishops discuss it more specifically and, at the end, there is a man at the apex  that takes the decision. I don’t think that that is the sort of sustainable synodality in the 21st century,” adding that “the alternative option is that we stay with this model and we simply add to it important tasks that are feasible in terms of ecclesiastical law.”

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