Report: Official note from Cardinal Secretary of State to German bishops

Vatican wants to stop debates on the ordination of women and homosexuality

Würzburg - According to a media report, the Vatican wants to stop reform efforts in Germany: In an official note, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has told the German bishops which issues are non-negotiable.

Published  on 24.11.2023 at 12:26  – 

Rome apparently wants to pull the ripcord and stop German reform efforts. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has informed the German bishops in an official note that the ordination of men to the priesthood and the Church's teaching on homosexuality are non-negotiable, reports the Catholic weekly newspaper "Die Tagespost" (Friday).

In a letter addressed to the Secretary General of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK), Beate Gilles, dated 25 October, from which the newspaper quotes, Parolin draws red lines for future rounds of dialogue with the German bishops. Among other things, he emphasises that the Vatican is not considering negotiating the Church's teaching on homosexuality or the letter"Ordinatio Sacerdotalis", in which Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the exclusion of women from ordination to the priesthood in 1994.

Talks between Germany and Rome

In July, several heads of the highest Vatican authorities (dicasteries) met with representatives of the German bishops for the first time to discuss the synodal path. In October, the German participants in the Synod on Synodality - Bishop Georg Bätzing, Bishop Felix Genn, Bishop Bertram Meier, Bishop Stefan Oster, Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck - and Gilles held a further meeting with several heads of dicasteries. These talks are to be continued in the coming year.

The heads of the dicasteries for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the Promotion of Christian Unity, for the Bishops, for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and for Legislative Texts want to meet representatives of the German bishops in January, April and June 2024 and discuss what is unchangeable in the Church's doctrine and discipline and what could be changed. The topics to be discussed include the doctrine of the Church, the image of man, morality and liturgy and the relevant texts of the Synodal Path.

The letter from Rome also emphasises that a synodal path is currently being followed at the level of the universal Church: "It is therefore necessary to respect this path of the universal Church and to avoid the impression that parallel initiatives are underway that are indifferent to the endeavour to 'journey together'." (KNA)