Maike Hickson

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Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer mk-online.de / Youtube screen grab

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German bishop: ‘Synodal path’ revisiting celibacy, sexual morality is ‘path of destruction’

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

GERMANY, May 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer – the successor of Cardinal Gerhard Müller in Regensburg – has once more raised his voice in opposition to the decision of a majority of German bishops to start a “synodal” discussion about the Church's sexual morality and priestly celibacy.

“A synodal process which aims at inventing a new Church is a path of destruction," said Bishop Voderholzer while speaking at the Austrian monastery Heiligenkreuz on May 11. "It splits Christians apart, it cuts the Church into pieces and finally also damages our society and is a burden also for the Protestant communities.”

This “synodal path,” the German prelate added, “leads us into the narrowness of a homemade occupation with ourselves, rather than leading us into the breadth which Our Lord has given us.”

Bishop Voderholzer insisted upon the personal responsibility of each individual bishop, a responsibility which “cannot be replaced by any synod.” 

Bishop Voderholzer made it clear that “it does not get us one millimeter further advanced when we patch together our own [putative] history of the Church in order then to grant ourselves in the end, for example, a female priesthood,” according to a Kath.net report. He further pointed out that Jesus Christ chose men and “gave them the Apostolic authority,” also in view of the “inner logic of the priestly service.” The German prelate insisted that Jesus Christ did not do so “out of respect for His own time. On the contrary, He made this decision against nearly all of the cultures of His time, which knew of a female priesthood in very different forms.”

Thus, he added, “the Church has no right to depart from this precept. This is valid today and it was valid at all times.” Voderholzer stressed that “female deacons did not fulfill an Apostolic service. They did not have an ordained office. This has been broadly researched and shown to be so, and Pope Francis has repeatedly referred to these scholarly results.” 

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, holds the same position as Bishop Voderholzer. He recently told LifeSiteNews that “there has never been an ordained female diaconate.” He pointed to several books that he wrote on the matter, adding that “There is no sign of any broad tradition in the Universal Church of a sacramental [female] diaconate.”   

Bishop Voderholzer, so far, is one of the few German bishops who criticizes the “synodal path” on sexual morality, celibacy, and various questions of power in the Church, as it was pronounced and promoted by Cardinal Reinhard Marx at the end of the spring assembly of the German Bishops' Conference in March of 2019. Cardinal Rainer Woelki has already expressed his own reservations about changes of the Church's teaching “when they contradict the spirit of the Gospels.” For Germany, he said that he sees only one alternative: “either the de-secularization of the Church or the de-Christianization of the world.”  

Voderholzer said that each bishop individually, at his own consecration, “has vowed to preserve whole and entire the Deposit of the Faith as it comes down to us from the Apostles” and to “proclaim the Gospels.” This solemn vow “cannot be replaced by any synod.”

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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.