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Bishop Philip EganPhilip Egan / Twitter

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March 18, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – English Catholic Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth is calling on Pope Francis to “intervene” in the German Bishops’ Synodal Way “before it’s too late.” The Synodal Way proposes pastoral solutions on matters pertaining to sexual morality, priestly celibacy, and the role of women that depart from perennial Catholic teaching.

“Rome should intervene in the German Synodal Way before it’s too late,” tweeted Egan on March 14. “It’s right to work through hot-button issues, but at the same time Rome should reassert the doctrinal parameters, insisting that German Catholics look outwards to service and mission.”

The Bishop told Catholic News Agency in a March 17 interview that he fears the “Synodal Way” will lead to the German bishops’ “de facto schism” from the Catholic Church.

“My worry is that we are very close to the point of no return with this Synodal Way – when bishops and people will be promoting positions at variance with the universal magisterium and the Church’s discipline e.g. the ordination of women, intercommunion, etc,” he said.

“This will lead to a de facto schism that will be very difficult (and theologically complex) to repair,” he added.

Asked by CNA if he was calling for the Vatican to stop the Synodal Way entirely, Egan responded, “The ultimate weapon of course would be for Rome to ask the German bishops to close it down. I am not sure they would heed this.”

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PETITION: Ask Pope Francis to clarify and rectify scandalous remarks on homosexual civil unions
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Remarks attributed to Pope Francis (and, not denied by the Vatican) in support of homosexual civil unions have caused grave scandal to the faithful.

Please SIGN this urgent petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify these heterodox and scandalous remarks on homosexual civil unions, and which will be delivered both to the Vatican and to the Papal Nuncio of the United States (the Pope's official representative in the U.S.).

As the last guarantor of the Faith, the Pope should clarify and rectify these remarks, which go against the perennial teaching of the Church, even including the teaching of his living predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

"What we have to create is a law of civil coexistence [meaning civil union law, for homosexuals]...," Pope Francis is reported to have remarked, in what is arguably his clearest statement of public support for a practice morally prohibited by official Catholic Church teaching.

In fact, the Church has been crystal clear in Her opposition to homosexual unions.

Just in 2003, Pope Saint John Paul II approved a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, titled 'Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons' and written by Cardinal Ratzinger (now, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), which concludes with the following:

"The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."

It could not be more clear: the Church is calling people to repentance, not to be left to indulge in grave sin.

Since becoming public, several senior prelates as well as other notable Catholic figures have voiced their opposition to these remarks attributed to the Pontiff.

Cardinal Raymond Burke stated: "It is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition."

Cardinal Gerhard Müller commented: "Where there is tension between the plain and obvious Word of God and the infallible interpretation on the one hand, and private expressions of opinion even by the highest church authorities on the other, the principle always applies: in dubio pro DEO [When in doubt, be in favor of God]."

And, Catholic theologian and apologist Scott Hahn, without directly quoting Pope Francis, shared on Facebook the 'Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,' published by the CDF in 1986, with the statement: "Holy Father, respectfully and humbly, I beg to differ... if that is indeed what you said. In any case, please clarify and rectify your statement, especially in view of the official teaching of our Lord through the magisterium of His Church."

But, the silence from the Vatican has been deafening, with no clarification forthcoming.

We must, therefore, ask the Pope for clarification in this serious matter.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify remarks attributed to him in support of homosexual civil unions.


'Cdl. Burke: Pope’s homosexual civil union remarks ‘contrary’ to Scripture, Tradition' -

'Cardinal says Catholics ‘can and should’ disagree with Pope’s ‘opinion’ on gay civil unions' -

'Archbishop Vigano, Bishops Tobin and Strickland respond to Pope’s approval of homosexual civil unions' -

'Pope’s comments on gay civil unions cause shockwaves around the world' -

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“The pope himself needs to intervene by giving authoritative teaching: this is the role of the Petrine ministry. He should also summon the German bishops to Rome and lay down more clearly for them an appropriate methodology,” he added.

Catholic leaders in Germany, however, have already received direction from Pope Francis and appear to be largely ignoring it. In 2019, the Pope sent a 30-page letter to the German bishops regarding the Synodal Way in which he pointed out doctrinal landmarks to be taken into account during the process. According to sources familiar with the letter, the Pope urged the bishops to seek unity with the Universal Church and to not leave the Catholic path. That same year, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops warned the German bishops that their plans were “not ecclesiologically valid.”

Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, warned in 2019 that the Synodal path could lead to “schism within the Church in Germany” to the point of it becoming a “German national church.”

The German bishops have already indicated that they do not look to Rome for moral guidance on pressing issues. When the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced this week that the Catholic Church cannot bless homosexual relationships since God “does not and cannot bless sin,” Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, who chairs the German Bishops’ Conference, said he was “not happy,” suggesting that the teaching will not be followed by the Church in Germany.

“This gives the impression that the theological debate, which is currently being debated in various parts of the universal Church, including here in Germany, is to be ended as quickly as possible,” he said as reported by Katholisch. Bätzing added that this is not possible at all “because the discussion is intense and with good arguments in many places, and the theological inquiries about pastoral practice today cannot simply be put out of the way with one word of power.”

Franz-Josef Overbeck, bishop of Essen, went even further, telling the Bild that, in spite of the ban on blessings for homosexual couples, he will “continue to accompany all people in pastoral care if they ask for it, regardless of the situation in life.” 

A number of German priests appear to be following the lead of these bishops. Deutschen Welle reported that about 60 German priests signed a letter this week stating that they will defy the CDF’s teaching and bless homosexual couples. “In view of the refusal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to bless homosexual partnerships, we raise our voices and say: We will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership and bless their relationship in the future. We do not refuse a blessing ceremony.”

Egan said that as a Catholic bishop he has a duty to speak out about what he sees happening to the Catholic Church in Germany.

“As a bishop, I have a responsibility not just for the Church in this diocese but for the universal Church. I have German friends and, like me, they have been concerned with the Synodal Way and its process for some time,” he said.

“The manner in which it is set up will inevitably lead to conclusions that compromise and collide with the Church’s Tradition.”