The German ‘Synodal Way’ is an assembly of laity, academics, clergy and bishops in Germany discussing four topics: power in the Church, the role of women, the priesthood, and sexual morality.

In the past they’ve voted on same-sex blessings and the necessity of the priesthood, backed an initiative demanding change to Church doctrine on sexuality and gender, and making priestly celibacy optional.

Pope Francis has since shared his dramatic concern about the situation unfolding in the Church in Germany.

In July, the Vatican even formally warned them not to threaten “the unity of the Church.”

During his conversation with journalists on flight back to the Vatican after his papal trip to Bahrain yesterday, Pope Francis was asked about the Church in Germany that is “losing three hundred thousand believers every year, who leave, who are in deep crisis.”

He replied: “I say to German Catholics: Germany has a great Protestant Church, but I don’t want another one, because it won’t be as good.”

He then warned about the danger of entering “contingent” discussions that move away from the “core of theology.”

“I am not saying go backwards, no; but go to the source of inspiration, to the roots.”

Read Pope Francis’ full message on the matter made public by the Vatican.

“Germany has a long religious history. Citing Hölderlin I will say: ‘Many things have they seen, many…’ Your religious history is great and complicated, [a history] of struggles. I say to German Catholics: Germany has a great and beautiful Evangelical Church; I do not want another one, which will not be as good as that one; but I want a Catholic [one], in fraternity with the Evangelical. Sometimes we lose sight of the religious sense of the people, of the holy faithful People of God, and we fall into ethical discussions, discussions about contingent things, discussions that have theological consequences, but are not the core of theology. What does the holy, faithful People of God think? What does the holy People of God sense? Go there and seek what it senses, that simple religiosity that you find in grandparents. I am not saying go backwards, no; but go to the source of inspiration, to the roots. We all have a history of roots of faith; even peoples have it: Find it! That remark of Holderlin’s comes to my mind, for our age: ‘The old man should keep [faith with] what he promised as a boy.’ We, in our boyhood… promised many things, many things. Now we get into ethical discussions, into contingent discussions, but the root of religion is the slap in the face that the Gospel gives you, the encounter with the living Jesus Christ: and from there the consequences [follow], all of them; from there you get the apostolic courage to go to the peripheries, even to the moral peripheries of people to help; but [it starts] from the encounter with Jesus Christ. If there is no encounter with Jesus Christ, there will be an ethicism disguised as Christianity. This is what I wanted to say, from the heart. Thank you.” 

Pray for the Church in Germany!


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