During a concluding assembly in March, delegates overwhelmingly passed measures to change Church practices based on transgender ideology and to push the universal Church to ordain women to the sacramental diaconate.
Delegates also voted to adopt same-sex blessings, normalize lay preaching, and ask Rome to “reexamine” the discipline of priestly celibacy.
While the Germans pushed forward with these controversial measures, the assembly held back from crossing a line laid down by the Vatican concerning the establishment of synodal councils at the national, diocesan, and parochial levels. The Vatican has said the synodal council model, which involves shared governance between bishops and the laity, is not consistent with Catholic ecclesiology.
Pope Francis and the Vatican have intervened repeatedly in the Synodal Way, as have a large number of bishops and theologians, both from Germany and around the world, raising serious concerns about many aspects of the process.
Francis wrote a letter to all Catholics in Germany in June 2019 warning of a “belief that the best response to the many problems and shortcomings that exist is to reorganize things, change them, and ‘put them back together’ to bring order and make ecclesial life easier.”
The Germans who attended the July 26 discussions at the Vatican were Bishops Georg Bätzing, Stephan Ackermann, Michael Gerber, Bertram Meier, and Franz-Josef Overbeck. The bishops’ conference secretary general, Beate Gilles, and spokesperson, Matthias Kopp, were also in attendance.