Despite the German bishops' insistence that the Vatican had critiqued an earlier version of the proposed statutes, the version passed by the executive committee in August provides, in Article 3, that "The Synodal Assembly is the superior body and has deliberative power. Members of the synodal assembly have an equal right to vote in decision-making matters."
Also retained in the August draft were provisions for the co-equal representation in the assembly for the German bishops' conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK).
Iannone's analysis said this particular arrangement would not be acceptable.
"There is an impression that the Episcopal Conference and ZdK are equal to each other: they send an equal number of participants, belong with equal rights to the presidency [of the Assembly], have a deliberative vote, and so on."
"This parity between bishops and laity is not ecclesiologically valid," Iannone concluded.
Another key point of concern in the Vatican's assessment is the lack of Vatican involvement in ratifying any resolutions presented.
"Article 12, 2, determines with respect to the publication of decisions, that those which concern issues that are reserved to the Universal Church are to be transmitted to the Apostolic See. As has already been said, the aforementioned topics exceed the competence of a particular Church," Iannone wrote, before drawing particular attention to the intent to "transmit" the decisions to Rome.
"One asks: what does it mean, 'transmit'? Is it only a matter of making the deliberations known, or is it a request for the recognitio [formal approval] as foreseen for the decrees of a particular Council? The draft of the statutes leaves many open questions."
In the revised draft, approved by the executive committee of the German bishops on Aug. 19, Article 11, 2, states that "Resolutions that concern issues that fall under the authority of the Universal Church will additionally be transmitted to the Apostolic See."
The Friday statement from the German bishops' conference said that PLCT concerns are largely moot after revisions made to the synodal statutes in "July and after the Permanent Council meeting in August." But internal documents of the German bishops' conference, obtained by CNA, say the most recent version of the statutes was "drafted Aug.1, 2019" with "no changes through Aug. 30, 2019."
It is not known whether relevant changes were made between Aug. 31 and Sept. 4, when Ouellet sent his letter to Cardinal Marx.
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