Cardinal Walter Kasper, former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has claimed that the German synodal path is ignoring the Pope’s admonitions, and has warned that if it continues to ignore them, it could “break the German synodal path’s neck”.
Church reform was certainly necessary but did not mean reducing the Church “to a mass of modelling clay which one can knead and shape to fit any situation”, Kasper underlined at an online study day of the Catholic initiative “Neuer Anfang” (“New Beginning”). It was essential to listen to the Holy Spirit on “which direction we should take and what adjustments we should make”, he said. Such questions could not be answered with “ideologically predefined answers which one then pushes through with a majority vote”.
The German synodal path was putting human points of view on an equal footing with the Gospel message, Kasper claimed. Some of the German synodal path’s statements to date were not compatible with the Gospel message, he said. He especially criticised the attempt to reform the episcopal office, which was the “fundamental pillar of the Church”. “Whosoever saws at this pillar will break the Church’s neck,” he added.
The “primeval sin” of the entire German project was that, from the beginning, it had ignored the Pope’s letter (“Letter to the Itinerant People of God in Germany” of June 2019) in which Francis had suggested proceeding from the Gospels and the fundamental mission of evangelisation.
Instead, the German procedure had “more or less put the Pope’s letter aside and proceeded along its own path in part with its own criteria,” Kasper said.
The Scandinavian and US bishops’ conferences and Austria’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn have also openly criticised the German synodal path.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich has sharply criticised the German synodal path’s proposition to discuss whether the Church even needed priests.
This “absolutely doomed proposition” gave the impression that a large majority of the reformers were against priests, Marx said. “There is no such thing as a Catholic Church without priests,” he emphasised.