Mainz, Germany, Mar 3, 2020 / 10:30 am
The German bishops’ conference has elected Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg as its new chairman. Bätzing replaces the outgoing chairman, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Münich and Freising, and will lead the conference for a six year term.
The election of Bishop Bätzing was confirmed Tuesday, following a vote by the German bishops at their spring assembly, which is currently underway in Mainz. CNA Duetsch reported March 3 that, after no candidate received the necessary two-thirds majority during the first two rounds of voting, Bätzing was elected on the third ballot with a simple majority of votes cast.
The bishop used his first press appearance as chairman to reaffirm the conference’s support for the ongoing “synodal way” being conducted in partnership with the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK).
"At the center of our considerations is the 'Synodal Way.' I fully support that," Bätzing said Tuesday.
The so-called binding synodal process formally opened during the first week of Advent, 2019, but the first meeting of the synodal assembly was convened in January. The assembly’s working groups will offer proposed changes to various aspects of Church teaching and discipline, including on women’s ordination, clerical celibacy, and human sexuality.
The 58 year-old Bätzing was consecrated bishop by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki on September 13, 2016.
Bätzing was asked Tuesday if some of the stated aims of the synodal process, in particular women’s ordination, had not been effectively ruled out by Pope Francis in his recent apostolic exhortation following the synod on the Amazon.
“On the contrary,” Bätzing said. The bishop explained that from his view the pope “did not take a position” on a number of questions posed in the final synodal document on the Amazon, and did not rule out any eventual conclusions of the German process.