The “Synodal Way” is a controversial process bringing together German lay people and bishops to discuss four major topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.
The first synodal assembly took place in Frankfurt at the end of January. Regional meetings are due to take place Sept. 4, following a break due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Voderholzer argued that the drafting of the text represented a breach of “the agreed procedure.”
In the letter addressed to his brother bishops and synod organizers, he highlighted a section discussing the biblical foundation of women and ministries.
“As a member of Forum III, I had no opportunity to comment on this part of the text after the changes had been incorporated by the editorial group for ‘time reasons.’ I protest against this procedure,” he wrote.
He asked whether the text “attempts to use a one-sidedly falsified Bible theology to steer the participants in the regional conferences in a certain direction.”
“I have to admit that such behavior would make me very disappointed and at a loss,” he said. “What spirit would be behind it? Don’t we all want to be ‘co-workers of the truth’ (3 John 1:8), especially in the deliberations of the Synodal Way?"
When the German bishops launched the process, they initially said that the deliberations would be “binding” on the German Church, prompting a Vatican intervention.
In June 2019, Pope Francis sent a 28-page letter to German Catholics urging them to focus on evangelization in the face of a “growing erosion and deterioration of faith.”
Despite this, none of the Synodal Way forums focuses on the new evangelization.
Bishop Georg Bätzing, the new president of the German bishops’ conference, discussed the “Synodal Way” at a private audience with Pope Francis June 27.
He 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.”
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The audience took place the day after the German Church released figures showing that it lost a record number of members in 2019.
Despite the exodus, the Church in Germany received more money in church tax than ever before last year.
In his letter to the German Church, the pope wrote: “Every time an ecclesial community has tried to get out of its problems alone, relying solely on its own strengths, methods and intelligence, it has ended up multiplying and nurturing the evils it wanted to overcome.”