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Bishop Georg Bätzing and Archbishop Stanisław GądeckiScreenshots

(LifeSiteNews) — The head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, has accused his Polish counterpart of “unbrotherly” and “un-synodal” behavior in criticizing the heretical Synodal Way. 

In a letter published by the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, Bätzing criticized the head of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki. 

Gądecki had written a letter to Pope Francis, made public in mid-November, in which the Polish bishop warned the pope about the influence of the German Synodal Way and its “unacceptable and non-Catholic theses.” 

“It was with some dismay and great disappointment that I took note of the letter you sent to the Holy Father on October 9, 2023, which has now been published,” Bätzing wrote. “We have spoken to each other several times in the four weeks during the Synod. It is – allow me to say this openly – massively un-synodal and unbrotherly behavior if you do not say a word to me about the letter in these conversations. Instead of a conversation, you have chosen [to write] a letter to Pope Francis in which you complain about the Synodal Path of the Catholic Church in Germany with great vehemence and with imprecise and misleading statements.” 

While Bätzing complained that Gądecki allegedly went over his head to address Pope Francis directly, the Polish bishop has personally written to Bätzing several times, warning his brother bishop about the consequences of the heterodox “reform project” called the Synodal Way, including a letter from February 2022. 

The head of the German bishops’ Conference accused Gądecki of overstepping his authority by calling the Synodal Way non-Catholic. 

“In your presentation, you attach great importance to the juxtaposition of your own Catholicity and the contradiction to Catholic doctrine that you accuse the Catholic Church in Germany of,” Bätzing states in his letter. 

“I wonder, however, according to which ecclesiastical law the president of the bishops’ conference of a particular church is entitled to judge the catholicity of another particular church and its episcopate. Let me therefore tell you clearly that I consider your letter to be a massive overstepping of your authority.” 

Contrary to Bätzing’s claim that Gądecki is operating outside his authority, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 886) states that diocesan bishops are not only responsible for their own diocese “[b]ut as a member of the episcopal college each bishop shares in the concern for all the Churches.” 

In Sacred Scripture, St. Paul even rebuked his superior, St. Peter, when the first pope was in the wrong and acted contrary to the Gospel of Christ (cf. Galatians 2:11-14). Since the German Synodal Way clearly seeks to establish teaching contrary to Catholic doctrine, Gądecki is certainly within his rights to rebuke the German bishops. 

In his letter from October 9, Gądecki wrote that the German Synodal Way is trying to make the Church “as similar as possible to the world, which in its liberal-democratic version is a model of humanism.” He also noted that “liberal democracy” is not the only valid form of government, citing the philosopher Aristotle. 

In his response, Bätzing claimed that Gądecki’s “reserved attitude” towards “modern parliamentary democracy” is concerning because in this modern form of government, “the recognition of human dignity and human rights, the principles of the constitutional order, popular sovereignty, the rule of law, the separation of powers, the protection of minorities and the welfare state” are promoted, according to the German bishop. 

Bätzing claimed that the Synodal Way does not question the hierarchical structure of the Church and that the “aim of the Synodal Way is to strengthen the episcopate and the papacy and not to weaken them.” 

“Of course, it must be possible to discuss the contemporary design of leadership,” he said. 

Earlier this year, the Vatican forbade the German bishops to set up a permanent “Synodal Council” because it would “form a new governance structure of the Church in Germany, which … seems to place itself above the authority of the German Bishops’ Conference and, in effect, to replace it.” The heterodox German bishops ignored the Vatican’s directive and proceeded with their “Synodal Committee,” whose sole purpose was to set up a “Synodal Council.” 

READ: Pope forbids permanent ‘Synodal Council’ in Germany while bishops’ conference president remains defiant 

Bätzing furthermore accused Gądecki of being “judgmental” towards people in same-sex relationships for upholding the moral teaching of the Church on sexuality. 

Gądecki had noted in his letter and in an interview that all the participants of the Synod of bishops held in October received copies of the heretical documents of the Synodal Way at the start of the Synod. The Polish prelate expressed his concern that these documents that “draw profusely from Protestant theology and the language of modern politics” would be adopted by the Synod fathers in the final document in 2024 “and will in fact approve the demands of the Synodal Way, albeit with a slightly different wording.” 

Bätzing stated in his response that Gądecki was spreading “abstruse conspiracy theories.” 

“I would like to emphasize that the numerous thematic and conceptual similarities between the synodal path of the Catholic Church in Germany and the World Synod do not stem from the fact that the German bishops have infiltrated, indoctrinated or even corrupted the world episcopate or the World Synod,” Bätzing wrote. 

“Such ideas simply belong to the realm of abstruse conspiracy theories.” 

During the Synodal Way meetings, more than two-thirds of the German bishops voted for documents that are contrary to Church teaching on a number of issues, including homosexual acts, same-sex “blessings,” women’s ordinations, and transgenderism. 

Meeting of “reconciliation” between the two bishops 

During the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) in Malta on November 27, Gądecki and Bätzing “spoke honestly about the irritations that have arisen,” the German bishop told Katholische Nachrichtenagentur (KNA). 

“We agreed that these are not easy times for the Church in both countries – and that we want to stand together as neighbors, especially in these times, even if we perceive cultural differences in the legitimate diversity of Catholicism and seek our way into a good future in which we want to witness the Good News to people as we have always done,” Bätzing said. 

READ: Head of Polish bishops’ conference criticizes Synod for using ideological ‘language of the UN’