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German “Synodal Way” Needs Vatican Approval

German bishops will have to seek Vatican approval for future decisions regarding their “Synodal Way.” Tensions between the Holy See and the Church in Germany have intensified since the German Bishops' Conference launched the "Synodal Way" in 2019. In cooperation with a lay body, the "Central Committee of German Catholics," the aim of most of the German bishops was to bring about change within the Church.  

It was not only in Germany that many Catholics feared that their shepherds were taking a dangerous path that threatened unity with the universal Church. In Rome, too, there is growing concern about the whole undertaking. 

For this reason, a delegation from the German "Synodal Way" once again traveled to the Vatican on March 22nd to discuss the main issues with representatives of the Roman dicasteries.    

In a joint statement after the meeting, both sides declared that the talks were characterized by a "positive and constructive atmosphere." The German bishops also assured that they want to develop “concrete forms of synodality in the Church in Germany that are in line with the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, the requirements of canon law, and the results of the World Synod.”  

The statement also says that all future plans of the German bishops to implement their ideas of synodality are to be submitted to the Vatican for approval. 

Most recently, the Vatican stopped the German Bishops' Conference’s plans to set up a  “synodal committee.”  

The protagonists of the worldwide Synod on Synodality are also looking at the developments from Germany with caution. One week before the German delegation's meeting with the Vatican, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Mario Grech, said:  

“I think the German bishops are in communion with the Holy Father. And if they keep following the Holy Father, the way forward is open.”   

The next meeting between the German delegation and the Vatican is planned for the summer, just a few weeks before the next assembly of the Synod on Synodality in October.  

Adapted by Jacob Stein

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