Further meetings planned

Compromise reached between German bishops and Vatican

Bonn/Vatikanstadt - After an exchange of letters, stop signs and criticism, the Vatican and German bishops have reached a compromise. Top representatives from both sides spent a day discussing the matter in Rome - further meetings are planned.

Published  on 22.03.2024 at 20:09  – 

German bishops and the Vatican want to coordinate more closely in future. On Friday, representatives of the Roman Curia and the German Bishops' Conference agreed on a procedure for the creation of new advisory bodies for the Catholic Church in Germany. They had previously spent a whole day in consultation at the Vatican.

In a subsequent joint statement by the German Bishops' Conference and the Holy See, it says: "The meeting, which lasted the entire day, was characterised by a positive and constructive atmosphere." Some of the open theological questions raised in the documents of the Synodal Path, the reform debate of the Catholic Church in Germany, were discussed. "Differences and points of agreement" were identified. Furthermore, a "regular exchange between the representatives of the German Bishops' Conference and the Holy See on the further work of the Synodal Path and the Synodal Committee" was agreed.

The German bishops had "promised that this work will serve to develop concrete forms of synodality in the Church in Germany that are in accordance with the ecclesiology [teaching on the Church, editor's note] of the Second Vatican Council, the requirements of canon law and the results of the World Synod". They would then submit these "forms of synodality" to the Holy See for approval.

No new governance structures against the will of Rome

The German bishops have thus de facto committed themselves to not creating any new governance structures for the Catholic Church in Germany against the will of Rome. During the Synodal Path in Germany last year, it was decided to establish a "Synodal Committee". This was to prepare a "Synodal Council" in which bishops and lay people would jointly discuss and decide on important internal church issues in Germany. The Vatican had rejected this because it recognised a possible violation of general church law and the doctrine of the church as a hierarchy in which the bishops and the Pope have ultimate responsibility.

Cardinals Victor Fernandez, Kurt Koch, Pietro Parolin, Robert Prevost and Arthur Roche as well as Archbishop Filippo Iannone took part from the Roman Curia. The German Bishops' Conference was represented by Bishops Georg Bätzing, Stephan Ackermann, Michael Gerber, Peter Kohlgraf, Bertram Meier and Franz-Josef Overbeck; the Secretary General of the German Bishops' Conference, Beate Gilles, and its press spokesperson, Matthias Kopp, were also present. According to the press release, both sides have agreed to meet again "before the summer break in 2024". (KNA)