The German Synodal Path. Photo: Synodalerweg

Four Bishops Halt German Synodal Way Prohibiting the Use of Money

The bishops who have slowed down the synodal path are Cardinal Woelki, from Cologne; Bishop Hanke of Eichstätt; Bishop Oster of Passau; and Voderholzer, from Regensburg.

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Joachin Meisner Hertz

(ZENIT News / Berlin, 06.20.2023).- The German Synodal Way remains in suspense, thanks to the veto that four German Bishops placed on the use of money for the funding of the Synodal Committee, a structure requested after the conclusion of the meetings that were stages of the German Synodal Way and that, in fact, the Vatican vetoed.

It was in November 2022, in the context of all the German Episcopate’s visit to the Pope, that both the Pontiff as well as three of his collaborators (Cardinals Parolin, Ladaria and Ouellet, Secretary of State and Prefects of the Dicasteries for the Doctrine of the Faith and Bishops, respectively) set guidelines that the majority of the German Bishops did not heed. Weeks later they were requested not to go ahead with the Synodal Committee as it was not provided for in Canon Law and would remove de facto the local authority from the individual Bishops, including that of the Episcopal Conference. 

The realization of the Synodal Committee, heir of the German Synodal Way and outcome of the same, met with the veto of four Bishops: Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, of Cologne; Bishop Gregor Maria Franz Hanke, OSB, of Eichstätt; Bishop Stefan Oster, of Passau; and Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, of Regensburg. The four Bishops have said ‘no’ to the financing of that structure, which violates their personal authority in the diocese and which implies, therefore, ecclesiological concerns. In their official statement they said that they prefer to opt for “walking together the path to a more synodal Church in their dioceses and in coordination with the synodal process of the universal Church.” Also to acknowledge “that we would create another organism in this moment with much money and effort, whose competencies are all together less clear, only to discover at the end that we can’t do it this way.”

For its part the Central Committee of German Catholics stated it will not be a backer. They said that if the Church wants to reform the Bishops must give the money. Or in other words, they do  want to have positions of authority in the German Church but with the money that the dioceses manage, not with their own. In fact, the President of the Central Committee of German Catholics suggested that that the laity must now decide on the Church’s money. Forgotten, however, is that in the ordinary management of the German parishes, the parish priest doesn’t have the last word, as it’s the Parish Council that approves everything, including the use of money. 

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