New understanding of the Petrine ministry necessary

Hoff sees monarchical papacy as fundamental problem of synodality

Salzburg - The Pope rules like an absolute ruler and at the same time wants a synodal church. Does that fit together? For fundamental theologian Gregor Maria Hoff, this reveals the core problem of synodality – and the conflict between Germany and Rome.

Published  on 03.04.2024 at 14:19  – 

Theologian Gregor Maria Hoff sees the understanding of the papal office as the core problem for a synodal church to solve. This problem will decide the future of Roman Catholicism both within the church and ecumenically, writes the Salzburg fundamental theologian in an article for the current issue of "Christ & Welt". Pope Francis rules as he speaks and decides as he sees fit. "But in the long term, there will either be a church with synodal rights of intervention or Roman Catholicism will remain monarchically organised," Hoff continues.

In the opinion of the fundamental theologian, the Pope is therefore in a fundamental contradiction: "As an absolute ruler, he decrees participation. He decides what is negotiated and what is not, what is possible and what is not." A pope who calls for synodality, but who perceives it as monarchical, only shows the contradiction in his own form of rule. On the one hand, Francis wants to overcome the times of a "pope-king", on the other hand, he does not dissolve his own monarchical power, which his official authority allows him to do. Hoff refers to the papal dogmas of the 19th century, which give Francis the power he makes use of by occasionally referring to them.

Hoff sees this problem of religiously based absolute power as the cause of the differences between the differences between the German Synodal Way and the Roman Church leadership. church leadership. In the long term, a synodal church cannot conceal its core problem: "whether a new understanding of the Petrine ministry is developing". Power becomes arbitrary "where it is used peronistically, as with Francis". Observers interpret the Pope's style of government with reference to the Peronist movement in his home country of Argentina, which combines authoritarian leadership with social goals. (fxn)