“It recognizes the open questions left by the Council and seeks to continue on the path of the Council on the secure ground of the Council,” he said.
“In doing so, it can show: It is not necessary to turn everything upside down. On the ground of the Council, one can go beyond the Council in the spirit of the Council without coming into conflict with the teachings of the Church. This is the way of the living tradition, the way of the Church.”
“It does not understand tradition as a daunting bulwark, but as an invitation to set out on the way of the Church and to be surprised by new insights.”
Kasper’s comments come as participants prepare to attend a plenary session of the Synodal Way in Frankfurt, southwestern Germany, on Sept. 30-Oct. 2. The event will be the second meeting of the Synodal Assembly, the supreme decision-making body of the Synodal Way.
The assembly consists of the German bishops, 69 members of the powerful lay Central Committee of German Catholics (Zdk), and representatives of other parts of the German Church.
Kasper said in June that he was “very worried” about the initiative’s direction.
“I have not yet given up hope that the prayers of many faithful Catholics will help to steer the Synodal Way in Germany on Catholic tracks,” he said.
In “Authority and responsibility,” the co-authors expressed concern about the direction of the Synodal Way.
“In the current debate on Church renewal, the necessity of which has become obvious through the abuse crisis, positions are often put forward whose contents have no secure connection with the reappraisal or prevention of abuse of power within the Church,” they wrote.
“Thus, the calls for the introduction of women’s ordination or the desire for a comprehensive adaptation of Church structures to the standards of modern democracies (especially with regard to the separation of powers), as well as doubts about the spiritual authority of the ordained ministry, the plea for its consistent desacralization or a far-reaching reorganization of the Church’s sexual morality are components of a reform agenda whose origins lie far before the abuse crisis and have only been secondarily associated with it.”
They continued: “Such a conflation of interests does not serve the serious concern with which the Synodal Path was begun and brings with it the danger of new divisions within the German Church as well as in its relationship with the Vatican and the universal Church…”
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“If the hope is raised that majority votes of a German synodal assembly could lead to changes in official Church doctrine and universal canon law or at least legitimize a German Sonderweg (special path) in questions of the doctrine of faith and morals, the end result threatens to be a potentiation of the energy-sapping frustration that has already been associated for decades with the struggle for radical reforms in the Catholic Church.”
Pope Francis addressed fears about the trajectory of the Synodal Way in an interview with the Spanish radio station COPE aired on Sept. 1.
Asked if the initiative gave him sleepless nights, the pope recalled that he wrote an extensive letter that expressed “everything I feel about the German synod.”
Responding to the interviewer’s comment that the Church had faced similar challenges in the past, he said: “Yes, but I wouldn’t get too tragic either. There is no ill will in many bishops with whom I spoke.”
“It is a pastoral desire, but one that perhaps does not take into account some things that I explain in the letter that need to be taken into account.”
In June 2019, Pope Francis sent a 19-page letter to German Catholics, urging them to focus on evangelization in the face of a “growing erosion and deterioration of faith.”