19 September 2019, The Tablet

Laity must be seen as respected partner


Tension has arisen between the Catholic Church in Germany and the Vatican over the desire of German Catholics to have a greater say in how the Church is run. Responding to dismay among the laity about such scandals as the sexual abuse of children by clergy, the German bishops have proposed new structures of governance in accordance with the principle of “synodality”. They implicitly recognise that certain views of the laity may be difficult to reconcile with the teachings of the present magisterium, but they also understand that unless the laity sees they are at last being treated as a respected partner and not just as a subordinate, the drift away from church membership will continue. The sensus fidei may, as it were, vote with its feet. This initiative has prompted a warning from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, that the German Church could find itself acting contrary to canon law, endangering church unity.

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