On Feb. 12, Pope Francis published the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia in which he did not allow for any exception to clerical celibacy in the Amazon.
The German "synodal process" is being conducted in partnership with the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), a group which publicly opposes Church teaching and discipline on the subjects being discussed by the synodal assembly.
Last year, Pope Francis wrote a letter to the whole Church in Germany, warning against a false synodality rooted in making the Church conform to modern secular morals and thought, which he called "a new Pelagianism" which seeks "to tidy up and tune the life of the Church, adapting it to the present logic."
The result, Francis said, would be a "well organized and even 'modernized' ecclesiastical body, but without soul and evangelical novelty."
Vatican officials subsequently informed the German bishops' conference that the synodal plans were "not ecclesiologically valid," and had to be substantially revised. Roman opposition notwithstanding, the synodal process formally began in the first week of Advent, 2019, and the first session was held in January, 2020.
Following the first meeting last month, the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Woelki, expressed his disappointment in the "synodal process."
"I basically saw all my fears confirmed. We witnessed the implementation of a de facto Protestant church parliament," Woekli said in an interview Feb. 1.
The cardinal said that attempts to democratize Church teaching and discipline, and subvert the authentic teaching office of bishops in the synodal assembly went against "the hierarchical constitution of the Church, as documented again in Vatican Council II and expressed in Lumen Gentium." Cardinal Woelki is 63.