Deep-rooted internal divisions among the Catholic Church’s upper echelons have been revealed in recent days as Scandinavian and Polish prelates have expressed deep concern over the radical, secularly progressive direction of Germany’s ‘Synodal Way.’
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the leader of the Polish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, along with the Nordic Bishops’ Conference, have both sent open letters to their German counterpart expressing their profound anxiety over the direction of the Synodal Way, a multi-year process which seeks to ‘reform’ the Church in the image of secularly progressive civil society championed by left-liberals.
The Synodal Way, originally launched in 2018 by the German Bishops’ Conference together with the lay organization the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), focuses its efforts on revising how power within the Church is exercised—and how the Church views sexual morality; the nature of priesthood; and the role of woman.
The Synodal Assembly’s fourth plenary meeting last month—which saw drafts approved favoring same-sex blessings; pro-LGBT redefinition of homosexuality; the ordination of women priests; optional priestly celibacy; and lay participation in the election of new bishops—prompted a notable contingent of highly influential prelates to speak out against the Church’s steady drift away from the gospel, and its relentless march toward the secular progressivism.
As The European Conservative previously reported, one of the first—and perhaps most prominent—prelates to voice staunch opposition to the assembly’s reforms was German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. In the immediate days which proceeded the assembly’s meeting last month, Cardinal Müller slammed those pushing liberal reforms as secularized people who “keep the name ‘Catholic’ to stay in the institution and take the money” despite refusing to accept the “word of God.”
Shortly thereafter, Cardinal Müller’s concerns and criticisms were echoed by Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the leader of the Polish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, who in a lengthy letter expressed “fraternal concern” over the direction of the “Synodal Way,” warning that radical liberal reforms could very well lead to a schism within the Church.
“Therefore, I look with unease at the actions of the German ‘synodal path’ so far. Observing its fruits, one can get the impression that the Gospel is not always the basis for reflection,” wrote to Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German Bishops’ Conference.
Faithful to the Church’s teaching, we should not yield to the pressures of the world or to the patterns of the dominant culture since this can lead to moral and spiritual corruption. Let us avoid the repetition of worn-out slogans, and standard demands such as the abolition of celibacy, the priesthood of women, communion for the divorced, and the blessing of same-sex unions.
Other high-ranking clergymen have also joined the growing chorus of dissenting voices. Days ago, in an open letter also addressed to Bishop Georg Bätzing, the Nordic Catholic Bishops’ Conference—which brings together Catholic bishops of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland—cautioned against “capitulation to the Zeitgeist” and “impoverishment of the content of our faith.”
The letter, signed by Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Bishop Erik Varden of Trondheim, Bishop David Tencer of Reykjavik, and Nordic bishops’ conference president Bishop Czesław Kozon of Copenhagen, reads:
Throughout the world, a number of Catholics ask questions about the lifestyle and formation of priests, the role of women in the Church, the range of views on human sexuality, etc. In the legitimate search for answers to the questions of our time, we must nonetheless respect boundaries set by topics that stand for unchangeable aspects of the Church’s teaching.
It has ever been the case that true reforms in the Church have set out from Catholic teaching founded on divine Revelation and authentic Tradition, to defend it, expound it, and translate it credibly into lived life — not from capitulation to the Zeitgeist. How fickle the Zeitgeist is, is something we verify on a daily basis.
Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.