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Bishop Georg Bätzing (left); Irme Stetter-Karp (right)Deutsche Bischofskonferenz/YouTube screenshot

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(LifeSiteNews) — Both the clerical and the lay presidents of Germany’s Synodal Way have hit back at the Vatican after receiving a surprise note of criticism from Rome, citing their “irritation” at the lack of synodal “communication.”

Bishop Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference overseeing the Synodal Way, and Irme Stetter-Karp, the pro-abortion co-president of the movement, issued a lengthy statement on July 21. It came just hours after the Holy See Press Office published an unsigned statement moderately rebuking Germany’s Synodal Way. 

While initially welcoming the Vatican’s statement, Bätzing and Stetter-Karp stated that “we see it as our duty to clearly state where, in our view, changes are necessary. In doing so, we already sense that the problems and questions we have named are similar worldwide.”

The statement was prompted by the July 21 surprise intervention from the Vatican, stipulating that the Synodal Way “is not authorized to oblige the bishops and the faithful to adopt new forms of governance and new orientations of doctrine and morals.”

RELATED: Over 70 bishops warn German bishops that ‘Synodal Path’ will lead to ‘schism’

Bätzing and Stetter-Karp accepted that the decisions of the Synodal Way “do not of themselves have legal effect,” and that the authority of local bishops would remain “unaffected” by any decisions of the committee. 

But they firmly rejected any further criticism from the Vatican, claiming that both the Synodal Way and its suggested proposals in violation of Catholic doctrine result from a 2018 sexual abuse report on the German Church.

“We are grateful that the bishops and the ZdK are walking this path together and can be sure of the support and active cooperation of the pilgrim people of God,” they stated.

The leaders of the Synodal Way also referenced Pope Francis’ own Synod on Synodality, re-iterating their desire to “want to actively shape this process through our work.”

But they attacked the Vatican for not involving the Synodal Way committee enough in the Synod, writing that “[u]nfortunately, the Synodal Presidium has not yet been invited to a discussion.”

With increasingly brash language, their statement continued: 

We regret with irritation that this direct communication has not taken place so far. In our understanding, a synodal church is different! This also applies to the way of communication today, which astonishes us. It does not testify to a good style of communication within the church if statements are not published by name.

The controversial Synodal Way, which has been criticized by numerous prelates including Cardinal George Pell, looks to “change” Catholic teaching on many areas of sexuality. It hopes to open the door to approving “practiced homosexuality” and female deacons, and it advocates masturbation and contraception.

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Yet despite Bätzing’s consternation at the unsigned Vatican rebuke, the document also hinted at future compromise, suggesting that change would be permitted in “doctrines,” provided the “universal Church” agreed to it.  

RELATED: Record numbers of German Catholics are leaving the Church amid ‘Synodal Way’

The Vatican’s statement included: “[I]t would not be permissible to introduce new official structures or doctrines in the dioceses before an agreement reached at the level of the universal Church, which would constitute a violation of ecclesial communion and a threat to the unity of the Church.”

Such a position would be in line with a 2019 letter Pope Francis wrote in support of the Synodal Way – a letter which Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office, recently said still expressed the Pontiff’s stance.

Bätzing has previously expressed disappointment that Pope Francis has not ushered in sufficient change in the Catholic Church. “The Pope disappoints me too, but in the sense of a deception,” said Bätzing in May. 

Even in the Catholic Church, the Pope is not the one who could turn the Church upside down, even with all the rights that are due to him, which we wish for. He does what he can.

Meanwhile, aside from the documents issued by the Synodal Way, Bätzing himself has personally called for the Catholic teachings on homosexuality and female ordination to be changed.

RELATED:

Holy See reiterates Pope’s support for ‘synodal way’ after Polish bishop said he’s distancing himself from it

Cdl. Müller endorses Cdl. Pell’s call for Vatican to reprimand ‘open heresy’ of German bishops

Cdl. Brandmüller calls out German bishops ‘openly contradicting the truths of faith’

EWTN priest criticizes Pope Francis for doing ‘a lot of damage’ to the Church with recent actions

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