“But a properly Catholic methodology is needed for such a discussion to take place,” he said. “This would lay down clearly the doctrinal parameters and make clear the meaning and value of those doctrines for people today.”
Germany’s Catholic bishops are overseeing the Synodal Way in partnership with the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), an influential lay body.
The Synodal Way’s working groups are preparing proposals for reform on matters of Church teaching and discipline on marriage, ordination, clerical celibacy, and sexual ethics.
Organizers initially said that the process would result in “binding” decisions, prompting a Vatican intervention.
A minority of German bishops have also concern about the process.
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said last September that the worst outcome would be if the Synodal Way “leads to a split and thereby outside of the Church, out of communion with the universal Church.”
In an interview with the German Catholic news agency KNA, the cardinal said he worried that this would create “something like a German national church.”
Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg has criticized the Synodal Way’s procedures, accusing organizers of a lack of transparency.
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.”
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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.”