DRESDEN, Germany (LifeSiteNews) — The apostolic nuncio in Germany has informed the German bishops that they cannot install a Synodal Council on the parish or diocesan level.
Archbishop Nikola Eterović wrote to the German bishops on the occasion of the Spring Plenary Assembly of the German Bishops’ Conference in Dresden this week. In his February 27 letter, the nuncio clarified Pope Francis’ prohibition against establishing a permanent “Synodal Council,” one of the proposals put forth by the heterodox German Synodal Way.
“Instead of creating new institutions with the risk of a further increase in bureaucracy, it is necessary to revitalize the already existing diocesan bodies in a synodal spirit, such as the Council of Priests, the College of Consultors, the Pastoral Council or the Council for Economic Affairs, etc.,” the apostolic nuncio wrote. “This is also the tenor of the already mentioned letter of the three cardinals of January 16, 2023, to the German bishops, approved in forma specifica by the Holy Father Francis.”
“I have therefore been instructed ex officio to specify that, according to a correct interpretation of the contents of this letter, not even a diocesan bishop can establish a synodal council at the diocesan or parish level.”
As it has been proposed by members of the Synodal Way, a permanent Synodal Council would replace the bishops’ conference and transfer authority from the individual bishops to this Council. The body would be composed of 74 members from the episcopacy and laity, chosen by vote during an upcoming session of the Synodal Path.
The Vatican, however, forbade the German bishop to establish such a permanent Synodal Council, because it would represent “a violation of ecclesial communion and a threat to the unity of the Church.”
Some German bishops tried to find a loophole and said that the Vatican’s directive did not state that individual bishops could not establish a Synodal Council in their own diocese. According to bishops like Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg, the Vatican letter only forbade the Synodal Way and the bishops’ conference to establish such a Council, and it could therefore still be done on the diocesan or parish level by individual bishops.
Eterović has now settled the matter by stating that the German bishops must not establish a Synodal Council at the parish or diocesan level either.
Furthermore, apostolic nuncio reminded the German bishops of the bible passage from the letter to the Hebrews “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!” (Heb 13:8).
He addressed the hot topic of women’s ordination less firmly, choosing to concentrate on Pope Francis’ remarks. Eterović quoted the Pope’s November 2022 America Magazine interview; the Pontiff had said there,“And why can a woman not enter ordained ministry? It is because the Petrine principle has no place for that.”
Eterović quoted a passage from Francis’ interview in which the Pope distinguished between the “theology of women” and the administrative functions that women can and should take on within the Church.
“And, in this aspect, I believe we have to give more space to women,” Francis stated. “Here in the Vatican, the places where we have put women are functioning better.”
“For example, in the Council for the Economy, where there are six cardinals and six laypersons,” the Pontiff continued. “Two years ago, I appointed five women among the six laypersons, and that was a revolution. The deputy governor of the Vatican is a woman. When a woman enters politics or manages things, generally she does better. Many economists are women, and they are renewing the economy in a constructive way.”
However, one of the women Francis appointed to the Vatican’s Council for the Economy, Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, said that she thinks female ordinations are “possible.”
Moreover, in November 2022 the Roman Pontiff scandalized many when he appointed pro-abortion, atheist economist Marianna Mazzucato as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and defended his decision by saying that he put her there to “give a little more humanity to it.”
Eterović concluded his letter by calling for unity in a world that is plagued by war.
“In this difficult historical context, the unity of the Catholic Church appears all the more as the great treasure, not least for peace in the world and the unity of humanity,” he stated. “So we do not want to strengthen the fleeing forces, but unity among the bishops, who ‘are the visible principle and foundation of unity in their particular churches’ (Lumen gentium, 23), and with the Pope in Rome, who ‘as successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.’ (ibid.).”
Francis’s position on the German Synodal Way has been ambivalent. While he did repeatedly criticize the German Synod for potentially leading to Protestantism, his own “Synod on Synodality” has made advances towards many of the same heterodox positions, like calling for a female diaconate and promoting the LGBT agenda.