The text was co-authored by Fr. Wolfgang Picken, dean of the city of Bonn, Marianne Schlosser, a theology professor in Vienna, Austria, journalist Alina Oehler, and Augsburg auxiliary Bishop Florian Wörner.
Speaking in Rome on Sept. 17, the influential German theologian Cardinal Walter Kasper praised the alternative text,
The 88-year-old former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said that text adopted by members of the Synodal Way attempted “to reinvent the Church in the face of the crisis with the help of an erudite theological structure.”
“There is much that is correct in it, but also much that is hypothetical. In the end, many wonder whether all this is still entirely Catholic,” he commented.
Preaching on Sunday, Volderholzer quoted Kasper extensively, expressing his agreement with the theologian considered to be close to Pope Francis.
Volderholzer’s intervention came on the eve of a plenary session of the Synodal Way in Frankfurt, southwestern Germany, on Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
The event is the second meeting of the Synodal Assembly, the Synodal Way’s supreme decision-making body.
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.
A group of German Catholics presented a new reform manifesto on Sept. 29, reported CNA Deutsch.
The Arbeitskreis Christliche Anthropologie (Christian Anthropology Working Group) published the manifesto online. It called for a new start in the German Church, arguing that the Synodal Way was failing to offer authentic reform “in a dramatic fashion.”
Pope Francis addressed fears about the trajectory of the Synodal Way in an interview with the Spanish radio station COPE aired on Sept. 1.
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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.”