Germany’s Synodal Path faces backlash from the outside and inside

(National Catholic Reporter. Renardo Schlegelmilch).

For years, the “Synodaler Weg” (Synodal Path) reforms in Germany have caused a rift between reformers and conservatives. Its latest working session showed more conflicts than ever — both with the Vatican and among German Catholics themselves. It was an uncharted path German Catholics embarked on back in 2019. The abuse scandal had just devastated trust in the church as an institution, and everyone was looking for solutions and a way out of the crisis. The answer: A “Synodal Path” for the church in Germany. For the first time ever, bishops and laypeople were planning to discuss and vote on far-reaching reforms — as equals. Everything seen as factors contributing to the sexual abuse crisis was put on the table, including priestly celibacy, a lack of women’s ordination, and the church’s stance on homosexuality. From the beginning, critics contended there was a threat of schism. Five years into the process, those critical voices are getting louder — outside and within the project. On June 14-15, reformers gathered in a so-called “Synodal Committee” meeting in the city of Mainz, the next step toward a permanent Synodal Council for Germany. Whether this council and many other changes will be implemented seems more uncertain than ever.

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