Egan told CNA: “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.”
“This will lead to a de facto schism that will be very difficult (and theologically complex) to repair.”
Synodal Way organizers have repeatedly rejected claims that the process will lead to a split in the Church.
Responding to Woelki’s comments last September, Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, insisted that the Church in Germany is “part of the Universal Church and nothing will change that.”
Bätzing has expressed hope that the results of Synodal Way will be discussed by the worldwide Church.
In a May 2020 interview, he said he was “very much in favor of transporting to Rome, to the level of the whole Church, the insights and decisions that we garner from the synodal process.”
Egan first expressed his misgivings about the Synodal Way publicly on March 14.
Writing on his Twitter account, he said: “Rome should intervene in the German Synodal Way before it’s too late. 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.”
Asked if he was calling for the Vatican to stop the Synodal Way entirely, he told CNA: “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.”
Referring to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s rejection of same-sex blessings on March 15, he said: “Instead, it would be better for Rome to reassert clearly the doctrinal parameters, as in yesterday’s CDF statement about same-sex unions.”
“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.”
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Egan suggested that Pope Francis could also discuss the future of the church tax system with Germany’s bishops.
If an individual is registered as a Catholic in Germany, 8-9% of their income tax goes to the Church. The only way they can stop paying the tax -- known in German as “Kirchensteuer” -- is to make an official declaration renouncing their membership. They are no longer allowed to receive the sacraments or a Catholic burial.
The Church in Germany received more money in church tax than ever before in 2019 despite losing a record number of members.
“The pope might also be minded to discuss with the German bishops whether it is still culturally appropriate to receive the Kirchensteuer, which last year netted $7.5 billion,” Egan said.