Delegates of the German Synodal Way on Saturday overwhelmingly passed measures to change Church practices based on transgender ideology and to push the universal Church to ordain women to the sacramental diaconate.
The votes took place on the final day of the process’ concluding assembly, held in Frankfurt March 9-11. On previous days, delegates voted overwhelmingly 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 establishing 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.
The synodal assembly decided to delay voting on the proposal. Instead, it will be considered by a newly established synodal committee over the next three years, while Synodal Way leadership attempts to change the minds of Vatican officials and garner more widespread approval in the universal Church.
At the concluding press conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the bishops’ conference, said that the results give a mandate to the bishops to make some changes in Germany now while pushing for broader reform.
“The Church is visibly changing, and that is important,” Bätzing said.
Irme Stetter-Karp, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics, said the results show that the synodal path in Germany will continue.
“It does not end here. It is just the beginning,” she said.
Observers, including 103 international bishops who signed a letter warning that the Synodal Way could lead to schism, have expressed concern about the heterodox ideas promoted by the process and the effect it could have on the wider Church if the Vatican does not sufficiently intervene.
The implementation text “Dealing with gender diversity” passed with support from 96% of the 197 voting delegates. Thirty-eight bishops voted for it, while only seven voted against it. Thirteen abstained from voting.
Consistent with a pattern running throughout the assembly, there would have been enough votes to block the measure if those abstaining had voted against it. Critics of the Synodal Way say that organizers’ removal of the secret ballot has created a fear-driven atmosphere that has prohibited many bishops from voting freely.
The resolution calls for “concrete improvements for intersex and transgender faithful,” including changing baptism records to match someone’s self-identified gender, banning one’s gender identity from consideration for pastoral ministerial roles, and mandatory education for priests and church employees to “deal with the topic of gender diversity.” Intersex refers to people born with mixed sexual characteristics.
The text also bars “external sexual characteristics” from being used as a criterion for “accepting a man as a candidate for the priesthood,” a measure that could open the door for attempted ordinations of women….
Full story at Catholic News Agency