Munich, Germany, Sep 16, 2019 / 10:45 am
The head of the German bishops’ conference told Vatican officials last week that addressing controversial theological topics during the German bishops’ proposed “binding synodal path” will be a service to the universal Church.
“We hope that the results of forming an opinion [on these matters] in our country will also be helpful for the guidance of the Universal Church and for other episcopal conferences on a case-by-case basis. In any case, I cannot see why questions about which the Magisterium has made determinations should be withdrawn from any debate, as your writings suggest,” Cardinal Reinhard Marx wrote in a Sept. 12 letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who is head of the Vatican’ Congregation for Bishops.
“Countless believers in Germany consider [these issues] to be in need of discussion,” Marx added.
Marx’s letter informed the Vatican that the German synodal process will continue as planned, despite recent instructions from the Vatican curia and pope, and will treat matters of universal teaching and discipline.
The letter followed a week of coverage concerning plans by the German bishops to create a Synodal Assembly with “deliberative power” to address issues including the separation of power in the Church, priestly life, women’s access to ministry and office in the Church, and sexual morality.
The letter was a response to the Vatican’s most recent intervention in German preparations for a synodal process, in which Ouellet sent Marx a four-page legal assessment of the German plans, which concluded that the Synodal Assembly is contrary to instructions from Pope Francis and “not ecclesiologically valid.”
The legal analysis especially criticized German plans to discuss matters of discipline and doctrine that have already been decided by the Church’s universal teaching or universal law.
“It is easy to see that these themes do not only affect the Church in Germany but the universal Church and - with few exceptions - cannot be the object of the deliberations or decisions of a particular Church without contravening what is expressed by the Holy Father in his letter," concluded the legal review, signed by Archbishop Filippo Iannone, head of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.