The German bishops are at odds over the “binding synodal procedure” they decided to adopt at their plenary in March this year, designed to reduce clerical power and address clerical sexual abuse and the celibacy rule.
On 29 August the bishops’ conference confirmed that four forums ( “Power, Participation and Checks and Balances”, “The Priestly Mode of Life”, “Sexual Morality” and “Women in Church Service and in Church Offices”) would be led by a bishop and a lay Catholic.
However, on his return from a visit to the United States, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne warned that the synodal procedure could put community with the World Church at stake and split the German Church.
In an interview in the Cologne Kirchenzeitung, he said he was “sceptical” about the procedure, fearing that “it holds great dangers – above all the danger of splitting the the German Church”.
In his letter to the German Catholics in June, Pope Francis had especially asked the German Church to remain in union with the World Church and with the Catholic faith, he recalled. Catholic Churches in the US were grappling with the same problems as the German Church, but he had the impression that the answers they had arrived at were “not attempting to go it alone”.
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