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Denver archbishop Samuel AquilaFr. Zak Boazman / Flickr

DENVER (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver has written again to the head of the German bishops’ conference, condemning once more the controversial “Synodal Path” and accusing the German bishops of “betraying the Gospel” by defending the movement, which he said “repudiates” the deposit of the faith.

“The Synodal Path … challenges and in some cases repudiates the deposit of the faith,” Aquila wrote in his May 2 letter to Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, head of the German bishops’ conference. 

Aquila’s letter came in reaction to Bätzing’s defense of the so-called Synodal Path, after more than 70 bishops from around the world signed an April 11 letter condemning the movement and accusing its participants of leading the Church into schism.  

The Synodal Path is a controversial movement in Germany which seeks to usher in radical changes to the Church’s teaching, particularly on sexual morality, and which brands itself as the answer to the sexual abuse crisis.

RELATED: Head of Polish bishops urges German counterpart not to ‘yield to the pressures of the world’

Recently, an overwhelming majority of participants voted in early February to approve Synodal draft documents calling for the “blessing” of same-sex couples, the ordination of women, and changes to Church teaching against homosexuality.

In his letter to Bätzing, Aquila says that the documents of the Synodal Path “cannot be read in any other way than as raising the most serious questions about the nature and binding authority of divine revelation, the nature and efficacy of the sacraments, and the truth of Catholic teaching on human love and sexuality. 

The archbishop of Denver also accused the German bishops of using the sexual abuse crisis in Germany as an excuse to bring about their agenda of doctrinal change.  

Aquila noted that the “gist” of Bätzing’s argument in favor of the movement was that “the German Church must adopt a new approach to the faith due to the past failure of German bishops to protect children. 

“This is a very strange argument,” commented Aquila. 

“Why must Catholic teaching on fundamental issues of doctrine and the moral life change because German bishops have failed to teach effectively and govern honestly?” he wrote. 

“The Church’s faith did not lead to the clergy abuse scandal!” continued the prelate.  

“A failure to stay attached to the vine, Jesus Christ and the choice to adhere to the world rather than the Gospel led to the crisis.” 

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PETITION to Pope Francis: Reinstate Puerto Rico Bishop, Daniel Fernández Torres
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By all accounts, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres' diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico is flourishing because of his adherence to the perennial teachings of the Church.

But, without any formal proceedings, Bishop Fernández Torres has been summarily 'relieved' of his episcopal duties allegedly because he championed conscience rights in the face of a Church vaccine mandate in Puerto Rico.

Please SIGN this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres now.

To be clear, COVID-19 is a serious disease, oftentimes with debilitating consequences, or worse, for those who contract it.

However, all coronavirus vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been tested on or produced with cell lines of aborted babies. And, the vaccines have been linked to serious side effects, while none has yet completed long-term testing.

Given the complexity of this issue, the Church has determined that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal discernment which each individual must make after informing his or her conscience.

As such, the Church teaches that there is no moral obligation to be vaccinated. Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Church's teaching authority where faith and moral are concerned, issued a statement to that effect in December, 2020.

Specifically, the CDF's, “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines,” of December 17, 2020, n. 5 states: “At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

Therefore, it would appear that for simply restating the current teaching of the CDF and for opposing his brother bishops in Puerto Rico on this seminal matter of conscientious objection, Rome is now attempting to "cancel" Bishop Fernández Torres.

This is wrong, unfair and discriminatory!

And, Bishop Fernández Torres is hardly the first bishop to defend Church teaching on conscientious objection on the issue of mandatory vaccination. Both the Colorado and South Dakota bishops' conferences released similar statements, and like Bishop Fernández Torres, they also offered to validate religious exemptions for member of their flock who asked to be exempted from vaccination.

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres.

For his part, Bishop Fernández Torres, 57, a staunch defender of life and family, protested his removal as "totally unjust" in a statement released Wednesday (3/9/2022).

The bishop, who led his diocese for nearly 12 years, noted that Pope Francis’ apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico verbally requested that he resign, but said that he refused to do so, as he "did not want to become an accomplice of a totally unjust action."

"No process has been made against me," Bishop Fernández Torres wrote, "nor have I been formally accused of anything, and simply one day the apostolic delegate verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign."

“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest,” the bishop added.

“I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico,’” he said. “It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position; an offer that in fact proves my innocence.”

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres. Thank you!


'Pope Francis abruptly removes faithful bishop who opposed COVID vaccine mandates' -

'Puerto Rico bishop supports conscience objections to COVID vaccines, allows priests to sign exemptions' -

**Photo Credit: Diocese of Arecibo

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 The archbishop also pointed out that the Church in the U.S. has also had to find solutions to sexual abuse, but that none of the “extensive reform” undertaken there in response to the crisis “has involved questioning either the basic truths of the faith or the Church’s settled convictions about the proper expression of human love.” 

The archbishop insisted that “there can be no concordat of mutual acceptance between the truth of divine revelation and Catholic doctrine, on the one hand, and the distorted anthropology of today’s advanced secular culture, which promotes an increasingly dysfunctional sexuality, on the other.” 

“There is nothing salvific in blessing destructive thought and behavior,” stressed the archbishop. 

“To surrender to the Zeitgeist is not a matter of reading the signs of the times; it is a betrayal of the Gospel.” 

RELATED: Cardinal Pell: Pope ‘will have to speak’ against dissident German Synod

Aquila concluded his letter by urging the bishop of Limburg to “consider seriously what the many bishops who have voiced their concerns about the Synodal Path and its problematic results to date have put before you.” 

The archbishop was not only referring to the now more than 100 signatories of the April 11 letter, but also to concerns already raised by the Polish and Nordic bishops’ conferences before that.   

Aquila’s letter is only the latest development in a back-and-forth debate with the German bishops over the Synodal Path, which has been going on for over a year now.  

In May of last year, Aquila published a 15-page-long commentary against the proposed changes contained in the first text of the Synodal Path. 

In response to the archbishop’s concerns, Bätzing wrote an April 14 letter which Aquila said he “found in German on the internet.”