The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) has reacted calmly to the letter from Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin that became public on Friday, in which he described two central reform issues within the Catholic Church as non-negotiable. ZdK President Irme Stetter-Karp recalled at the plenary assembly of the lay body in Berlin that Parolin had also declared the participation and voting rights of women to be unthinkable and illegitimate in the run-up to the World Synod in October, because it would not correspond to the structure and history of the Catholic Church either in terms of canon law or sacramentally. "And what did our Pope do? Suddenly it was legal and possible and put into practice," says Stetter-Karp. This dynamic within the Vatican and between the Curia and the Pope should not be overlooked.
ZdK Vice President Thomas Söding emphasised that the letter from the Cardinal Secretary of State shows that there is a process of dialogue between Germany and Rome; this is "naturally a good sign". When asked by katholisch.de, the Bochum-based theologian also rejected the view that there are issues in the Church that are non-negotiable. "It's not about negotiating. It's about the question of whether you face up to the problems that exist in the Catholic Church," said Söding. It is simply the case that there is a problem of authority worldwide with regard to the Vatican declaration, according to which the Church has no authority to ordain women as priests. "This needs to be discussed and we will then see the result." On the subject of homosexuality, the World Synod declared that the Catholic Church does not yet have all the answers with its traditional anthropology, "but needs an exchange with the human sciences".
Söding: "Certain nervousness" after the start of the Synodal Committee
On Friday, a letter from Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin became known in which he informed the German bishops in an official note that the ordination of men to the priesthood and the Church's teaching on homosexuality were not negotiable. The press spokesperson of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK), Matthias Kopp, confirmed that the bishops had received the letter at their Permanent Council at the beginning of the week. In the letter dated 25 October and addressed to the Secretary General of the Bishops' Conference, Beate Gilles, 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 confirmed the exclusion of women from ordination to the priesthood in 1994.
According to Söding, the constituent meeting of the Synodal Committee a fortnight ago in Essen and the unanimous adoption of the statutes and rules of procedure there has led to "a certain nervousness" in certain circles. He therefore assumes that there will still be several attempts to "pass off partial truths taken out of context as definitive statements by Rome". However, the public can be sure that the ZdK will not be overly impressed by this, but will continue to drive its work forward constructively. (stz)