German Bishop says the Catholic reform process is unstoppable

According to Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers of Dresden, the reform process in the Catholic Church cannot be stopped.

According to Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers of Dresden, the reform process in the Catholic Church cannot be stopped. “The Synodal Path may be formally coming to an end – but we must and will continue on the path to an increasingly Synodal Church,” he told the website on Friday. “This also applies to the topics that we discussed during the Synodal Path process and on which we have already passed resolutions.”

In the Synodal Path, the project for reforms within the Catholic Church in Germany, bishops and representatives of laypeople have been debating about the future of the church in Germany since 2019. The main topics are power, priesthood and sexual morality as well as the role of women in the Church. From 9th to 11th March, around 200 delegates will come together in Frankfurt for the fifth and, for the time being, last Synodal Assembly in Germany.

Timmerevers called for the resolutions of the reform debate to be “filled with life”. He acknowledged that the Catholic Church is still in its infancy when it comes to synodality, but “the synodal spirit is finally out of the bottle, if you will”.

The bishop also commented on the plan to set up a permanent Synodal Council in Germany, in which bishops and laypeople would discuss and make decisions together. In a letter at the end of January, the Vatican declared the project inadmissible because it would limit bishops’ authority. When it comes to the project, the most recent warning from the Vatican “must be heeded”, stressed Timmerevers. It will be important “to design the structure and tasks of the Synodal Council in such a way that still guarantees the decision-making power of the bishops in their dioceses. The Synodal Council, whatever it looks like in the end, will not rewrite canon law.” At the same time, however, “it must be a matter of synodality being able to continue to grow in our Church bodies and structures”.

Timmerevers made his comments before a general assembly of the German Bishops’ Conference next week in Dresden, where he is the host as the local bishop. There, the bishops plan to talk about how they will act on the last stages of the German Synodal Path.

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