German bishops at loggerheads over plan for church renewal
Woelki said he believed the new synodal procedure 'holds great dangers – above all the danger of splitting the the German Church'
On 29 August the bishops’ conference confirmed that four forums ( “Power, Participation and Checks and Balances”, “The Priestly Mode of Life”, “Sexual Morality” and “Women in Church Service and in Church Offices”) would be led by a bishop and a lay Catholic.
However, on his return from a visit to the United States, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne warned that the synodal procedure could put community with the World Church at stake and split the German Church.
In an interview in the Cologne Kirchenzeitung, he said he was “sceptical” about the procedure, fearing that “it holds great dangers – above all the danger of splitting the the German Church”. In his letter to the German Catholics in June, Pope Francis had especially asked the German Church to remain in union with the World Church and with the Catholic faith, he recalled. Catholic Churches in the US were grappling with the same problems as the German Church, but he had the impression that the answers they had arrived at were “not attempting to go it alone”.
The Bishop of Mainz, Peter Kohlgraf has defended the synodal procedure. At a celebration for lay pastoral assistants in Mainz Cathedral, where the synodal procedure meetings are to be held, he recalled that the procedure had not been decided on “for fun but against the background of terrible crimes” committed by priests.