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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — After the Vatican clarified today in a statement to the German bishops that the “Synodal Way” could not operate on its own apart from the Holy See without violating ecclesial communion, it then indicated that the proposals of the German prelates should be “incorporated into the synodal process on which the universal Church is traveling, in order to contribute to mutual enrichment.”

The clarification comes in the midst of a storm of controversy regarding the German bishops’ proposals on changing the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, the nature of marriage, contraception, the ordained priesthood, holy communion, ecclesiastical governance, and abortion. The Vatican’s statement reads:

In order to safeguard the freedom of the People of God and the exercise of the episcopal ministry, it seems necessary to clarify: The “Synodal Way” in Germany is not authorized to oblige the bishops and the faithful to adopt new forms of governance and new orientations of doctrine and morals.

It 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. In this sense, the Holy Father recalled in his letter to the pilgrim people of God in Germany: “The universal Church lives in and from the particular Churches, just as the particular Churches live and flourish in and from the universal Church; if they were separated from the universal Church, they would weaken, perish and die. Hence the need to keep communion with the whole body of the Church always alive and effective.” Therefore, it is desirable that the proposals of the Way of the particular Churches in Germany may be incorporated into the synodal process on which the universal Church is traveling, in order to contribute to mutual enrichment and to bear witness to the unity with which the Body of the Church manifests its fidelity to Christ the Lord.

The most recent of the heretical proposals coming from Germany called for “nationwide provision of abortion,” a demand voiced Irme Stetter-Karp, the Catholic laywoman who is co-president of the German “Synodal Way.”

As LifeSiteNews reported earlier this year, “a document approved by participants in a 174-22 vote calls for a ‘re-evaluation’ of Church teaching against homosexuality and revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, claiming that homosexual acts are ‘not a sin.’”

The open dissent from Catholic moral teaching among the German episcopate prompted Australian Cardinal George Pell in April to call on the Pope to reaffirm the unchanging doctrine and Tradition of the Church.

“Undoubtedly, the Holy Father will speak, will have to speak on this matter to clarify and reiterate the Tradition,” Pell said at the time in an interview. “The special role of the papacy is to maintain the purity of the Apostolic Tradition and to maintain the unity of the Church around that tradition.”

Some conservative Catholics, however, see the Pope’s statement today as an invitation for the heretical ideas of the German “Synodal Way” to be considered in Rome for the universal Church.

LifeSiteNews German correspondent Maike Hickson took to Twitter, interpreting the Vatican’s call for the German “Synodal Way” to “converge with the synodal path being followed by the Universal Church for mutual enrichment” as “meaning: not so fast, Germans, let us establish first the new rules universally.”

In April, Bishop Georg Bätzing, the Head of the German Bishops’ Conference, ignored the warning of other European bishops that the Church in Germany was in danger of schism. However, the fear that Germany’s “Synodal Way will influence Rome is not without foundation, as last year the Pope tasked the Roman Synod on Synodality with introducing needed changes so as to usher in “a different Church.”

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