Fulda, Germany, Sep 23, 2019 / 12:00 pm
The German bishops are set this week to vote upon statutes for a “binding synodal process,” days after Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, held talks about the plans with Pope Francis and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
On Monday, the German bishops began a three-day plenary session in Fulda, which will conclude Sept. 25.
Sources close to the conference told CNA that the bishops plan to debate a “substantially unchanged” draft of statutes for the creation of a Synodal Assembly in partnership with the Central Committee of German Catholics, despite concerns about the plan expressed in a Sept. 4 letter from the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Legislative Texts.
According to senior sources at the conference, Marx has sought to reassure the bishops that he was able to “clarify” the Germans’ intentions during meetings in Rome last week.
“Cardinal Marx wished to return with an unambiguous sign of support from the pope, preferably in a letter or statement,” one senior Churchman told CNA. “He did not, but has said that the misunderstandings are resolved.”
Speaking last week, Marx called his meetings with the pope and Ouellet “constructive,” but did not elaborate. Cardinal Ouellet has not spoken publicly about the meetings.
Senior officials in the Congregation for Bishops told CNA that Marx had used the meeting to attempt to “minimize” the significance of the synodal plans, and to insist that Vatican criticisms are unfounded.
“Marx told the cardinal [Ouellet] that they would not have a synod, certainly not a [particular] council, according to canon law, but only a forum for discussion called a synod,” one official told CNA after the meeting.