The Synodal Way is a multi-year process bringing together bishops and lay people to discuss four main topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.
Wichmann predicted that the Synodal Way would also cause frustration among “reform-oriented Catholics.” He argued that since the initiative’s decisions were not legally binding for the bishops, expectations of doctrinal change were unrealistic.
He said that even for Catholics who are loyal to the Magisterium, the Synodal Way risks creating deeper “polarization and division.”
“The discussions here, in the Catholic Church in Germany, are held separately from the universal Church. Many of the topics raised have to be decided in the universal Church, on the basis of the Magisterium,” he said.
“By dealing with topics that contradict the Magisterium and thereby undertaking an idiosyncratic path, the Synodal Way also inevitably disappoints the expectations of Catholics for whom the Catechism and the Magisterium form a foundation.”
Bishop Georg Bätzing, the chairman of the German bishops’ conference, insisted last month that the country’s Catholics are not “schismatics.”
He said: “It is absolutely clear that there are matters that we can only discuss at the level of the universal Church. We will contribute from Germany with our reflections.”
“However, I would like to reject the accusation repeatedly used of us being schismatics or of wanting to detach ourselves as the German national Church from Rome. Our bond with Rome and the Holy Father is very tight.”
For the three authors of the dubium, Wichmann said, “only on the foundation of clarification can unity in faith, love, and hope be found again.”
“We therefore very much hope for an answer from Rome,” he said, “also in order to take away the doubts of many believers and thus promote trust.”