Maike Hickson

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‘Fraud’: 3rd German bishop rejects ‘synodal path’ to revisit sexual morality, celibacy

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

May 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In March 2019, after a delay of thirty minutes, an obviously exhausted Cardinal Reinhard Marx announced to the world that the German bishops, in the final minutes of their spring assembly, had “unanimously” approved a “synodal path” for revisiting the Church's teaching on sexual morality, clerical power, and celibacy. However, as LifeSiteNews then was already able to find out, that alleged unanimity was only due to the fact that several bishops had abstained from voting. One of them, as it turns out, was Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg.

In recent weeks, both Cardinal Rainer Woelki and Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, two other German prelates, have already signaled their own resistance against the German idea of reviewing the Church's teaching and discipline. Thus, we now have three German prelates who oppose the German “synodal path.”

Speaking with the Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur KNA, Bishop Zdarsa made it clear that he does not support the “synodal path.”

“I strongly reject the word 'synodal path',” he said.

Bishop Zdarsa called the expression itself a “tautology,” and then added: “I consider it to be label fraud.” When the interviewer asks the bishop “Why? After all, you have supported the decision,” Zdarsa answered: “No, I have visibly abstained from giving my vote during the vote on it [the synodal path] which was done, unfortunately, merely by hand.”

Bishop Zdarsa – who will soon turn 75 years of age and thus approaching retirement age – also publicly distanced himself from many of the statements issued by his fellow bishops. “I once proposed to my fellow bishops a moratorium on public statements. And I asked them at least to issue their [public] statements only in their own name, not in the name of 'us,' 'the bishops,' or of 'the Church.'” He wishes “not to be monopolized” by some of the statements made by his fellow bishops “because, in some matters I very clearly have another opinion.” 

The German bishop, who originally comes from Dresden and grew up during the reign of Communism, rejects “this undisciplined chatter”, calling it “one of the greatest problems.”

On May 22, Zdarsa gave another interview, in which he sharply criticized the German feminist initiative “Maria 2.0” which is calling for female ordination and which called upon women to stay away from Mass on a particular Sunday. “He who calls upon others, and encourages them, to stay away on Sunday from the Eucharistic Lord's Supper, excludes himself de facto from the Eucharistic community and drags others along,” he told the German newspaper Die Tagespost

“For this [initiative], there cannot exist any understanding on the part of the bishops, however well it is meant,” he concluded.

Bishop Zdarsa – who is known for his usual reticence and disinclination to participate in public debates – recently also told the public that the Church's adaptation to the “life realities” of the faithful might pertain to the “Mass schedule,” but not to the Church's morality and doctrine.

The German bishop was among the seven German prelates who, in 2018, opposed Cardinal Reinhard Marx' push for Communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics. It was Cardinal Marx who, in June of 2018, went to Pope Francis and received from him finally the permission to publish the controversial handout allowing this very practice which is, according to Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, against the Church's law.

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.