Vatican City, Jun 27, 2020 / 10:30 am
Pope Francis “appreciates” the German Church’s “Synodal Way,” the president of the German bishops’ conference said after meeting with the pope Saturday.
In a statement following his private audience with the pope June 27, Bishop Georg Bätzing said: “I feel strengthened by the intensive exchange with the Holy Father to continue on the path we have taken. The pope appreciates this project, which he associates closely with the concept of ‘synodality’ which he coined.”
He continued: “It was a matter of concern to me to make it clear that the Church in Germany is following this path and always knows that she is bound to the universal Church.”
Bätzing traveled to the Vatican the day after the German Church released figures showing that it lost a record number of members in 2019.
The statistics, issued June 26, showed that 272,771 people exited the Catholic Church last year, a significant increase on the 2018 figure of 216,078.
In Bätzing’s own diocese of Limburg, 9,439 people left the Catholic Church in 2019, 1,459 more than in 2018.
Bätzing said Saturday: “We must find answers to urgent challenges facing the Church, ranging from coming to terms with sexual abuse of minors to the dramatic numbers of people leaving the Church.”
Referring to a 28-page letter that Pope Francis wrote last year to German Catholics, Bätzing said: “With his letter to the pilgrim people of God of the Church in Germany in June 2019, he encouraged and gave indications. He will continue to accompany us attentively.”