Tromso, Norway, March 10, 2022 / 04:00 (CNA).
The Nordic Catholic bishops published an open letter on Wednesday expressing concern over the direction of Germany’s “synodal way”.
In the March 9 letter, they warned against “surrender to the Zeitgeist” and “impoverishment of the content of our faith,” reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language press partner.
While acknowledging the challenges facing the Catholic Church in Germany, they said that “the orientation, method and content of the Synodal Way of the Church in Germany cause us concern.”
The Synodal Way is a multi-year process addressing how power is exercised in the Church, sexual morality, priesthood and the role of women in the wake of a devastating crisis of clerical abuse in Germany.
The Nordic bishops published their letter after participants in the Synodal Way voted in favor of draft texts calling for the abolition of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church, the ordination of women priests, homosexual blessings and changing Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
“All over the world, a number of Catholics are asking questions about the way of life and the training of priests, the role of women in the Church, the range of views on human sexuality, etc.”, wrote the Nordic bishops.
“In the legitimate search for answers to the questions of our time, we must nevertheless respect the limits set by subjects who represent immutable aspects of the teaching of the Church.”
“It has always been the case that genuine reforms in the Church start from Catholic teaching founded on divine Revelation and authentic Tradition, to defend it, expound it and credibly translate it into lived life – and no of surrender to the Zeitgeist. How fickle the Zeitgeist is is something we check daily.
The Nordic Bishops’ Conference brings together the Catholic bishops of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.
The open letter, addressed to the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, was signed by Church leaders including Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Bishop Erik Varden of Trondheim, Bishop David Tencer from Reykjavik and the President of the Nordic Episcopal Conference, Bishop Czesław Kozon from Copenhagen. .
Sister Anna Mirijam Kaschner, general secretary of the conference, also signed the open letter. The German nun is a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood.
The intervention by the Nordic bishops follows the publication of a letter last month by the president of Poland’s bishops’ conference expressing “fraternal concern” about the “Synodal Way”.
In the nearly 3,000-word letter to Bishop Bätzing, Bishop Stanisław Gądecki questioned whether the initiative was rooted in the Gospel.
In their nearly 1,000-word letter, the Nordic bishops wrote: “The global synodal process has raised great expectations. We all hope for a revitalization of Catholic life and the mission of the Church. However, to the extent that we remain locked into paradigms of process thinking and structural change, we risk ending up conceiving of the Church as a project, the object of our action.
They said that the image of the Church as the pilgrim People of God should be complemented by other images drawn from the Catholic tradition, in particular the Church as a “mystery of communion”.
“We find that the Catholics who constitute and carry the life of our parishes and communities instinctively sense this sacramental mystery but are not necessarily the ones inclined to fill out questionnaires or participate in group discussions,” they write.
“Let us not forget, within the framework of the synodal process, to also be attentive to their testimony.”
They continued: “At this time, as Europe, subject to deep divisions, threatens to explode, we see: we need a higher standard of unity. Christ alone is our hope!
“In his name, the Church is called to be ‘the lasting and sure seed of unity, hope and salvation for all mankind’ (Lumen gentium, 9).”
“Only if the life of the Church ad intra [internally] is rooted in Christ, only if we live in the fullness of his revelation will we live up to this calling. We can hardly expect a new fullness of Catholic vitality to flow from the impoverishment of the content of our faith.
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