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German bishops turn to synod and abuse scandal



The Catholic bishops of Germany hold their fall plenary assembly, which focuses on the ongoing synodal path and the reform of the Church.

By Lisa Zengarini

The German bishops hold their autumn plenary assembly until September 23 in Fulda. The meeting focuses on the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the ongoing German synodal path (Synodal Weg), and a discussion on Church reform, including the place of women.

The synod process was launched in late 2019 to discuss a range of contemporary theological and organizational issues, as well as possible responses to the crisis of abuse that has rocked the German Catholic Church in recent years.

The bishops will also discuss the synodal process starting in October this year, which will lead to the 2023 General Synod of Bishops on Synodality in Rome.

Urgent need for repentance for abuse scandal

At the opening Mass on Monday, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the German Catholic Bishops‘ Conference (DBK), stressed the urgent need for repentance. He noted that the Church too has her share of responsibility in the growing distance between the Gospel and contemporary culture and “the ever deepening gulf which makes its understanding difficult” in modern society.

“Unquestionably, we ourselves have contributed to this confusion and therefore to the failure of the communication of the Gospel”, he declared in his homily, referring to the part of the responsibility of the bishops in the scandal of the abuses.

The bishop added that the vocation to the episcopal ministry “fundamentally requires that we leave behind what is ungodly, sinful, unspiritual and fundamentally harmful to the community“.

Bishop Bätzing: Jesus has the power to heal

At the same time, he emphasized the healing and renewing power of Jesus against injustice and shame.

“One word and everything becomes new: only God can do it, alone with him nothing is impossible,” he said. Bishop Bätzing therefore called on the German bishops to “tell how Jesus touched and called us and how we come together, we deliberate and discuss, we plan and decide in order to make the Lord shine, for he is the light of the nations”.

Bishop Eterović: The process of renewal of the Church requires communion and holiness

In his opening address, the Apostolic Nuncio in Germany, Bishop Nikola Eterović, focused on the syodal process, recalling that “the goal of all reform and renewal in the Church is the holiness of its members”.

“The Lord Jesus,” he said, “constantly calls us to follow the path of ecclesial communion, of Catholic faith and of holiness in our time, especially in the midst of pressing ecclesial and social challenges. “

Participating bishops

Sixty-eight bishops participate in the assembly. During the meeting, they will also elect the member, chairmen and vice-chairmen of the 14 committees of the DBK e and its sub-committees.