Participants of the synodal path initiated met in five cities of the country. In Berlin, where “La Croix” went, the discussions were sometimes heated
By Delphine Nerbollier, LaCroix, September 7, 2020
German Catholics who are delegates for the Synodal Path have held their latest plenary assembly in several different cities across the country.
Originally scheduled to gather together in Frankfurt, the 230 delegates instead met on September 4 in five different locales due to the coronavirus pandemic.
About 40 people took part in the discussions in Berlin.
“It is a real pleasure to finally debate in real life, and no longer by video conference,” said Karin Kortmann, vice-president of The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK).The Synodal Path (or journey) was first planned in spring of 2019 and then launched last January. It is being jointly organized by the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) and representatives of the laity, the ZdK.
It is intended as a response to the scandal of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
Homilies, Baptisms and Blessings
Expectations at last Friday’s meetings were high, especially on the part of the laity.The discussions were often lively and focused on two of the four themes of the Synodal Path — “the place of women in the services and functions of the Church” and “love within sexuality”.
The participants were called to react to the proposals made by the forums in question.Why not allow qualified lay people to deliver the homily during Mass and to provide baptisms and blessings for the sick?Why not increase the already existing quotas for women in leadership positions in dioceses and general vicariates from 30% to 50%?
In Berlin, the debate was at times heated.
“I understand the request, but some of these proposals do not depend on us but on the universal Church,” pointed out Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr of Erfurt.”
Moreover, these questions are not relevant in countries like India,” he added.”
Not true,” replied one participant.”These proposals are not in any way against canon law. Should we be ashamed of living in an egalitarian society?” she asked.
Maria Flachsbarth, a Christian Democrat and member of parliament, was passionate.”
This kind of debate does not exist in any other part of our society. If we want the Catholic Church to remain relevant, we must finally act,” she warned.”
The Church has been silent for too long on these issues”
The same tension was present regarding the issue of sexuality, whether it be casual sexual activity or that within a committed partnership, before marriage or between people of the same sex.”
The Church has been silent for too long on these subjects,” theologian Eberhard Tiefensee declared.”It should recognize that it has no business in people’s bedrooms,” he said.
Franziska Kleiner of the German Catholic Youth Organization, on the other hand, called for more guidelines from the Church, especially for “young people who change partners” on a regular basis.
At the end of these discussions, Reinhard Hauket — the auxiliary bishop of Erfurt — appeared ambivalent.”
We have clearly seen how divergent the positions are,” he said.”On some points, shared positions will be possible, but on others I fear that some participants will be disappointed at the end of the process,” he admitted.
Friday’s gathering was meant to be a discussion session. The various working groups will now have until February to formulate amended texts for participants to vote on.The final objective is to present concrete proposals to the Bishops’ Conference and to Rome in 2022.
This article first appeared HERE.