Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of Synod of Bishops. / Diocese of Gozo via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).
CNA Newsroom, Aug 29, 2022 / 10:05 am (CNA).
The chief organizer of the Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality has decried as “denunciation” the number of public criticism of the German “Synodal Way.”
Cardinal Mario Grech said he did “not agree with the method used by the critics” of the German process in an interview with the German publication “Herder Thema.”
The secretary general for the Synod of Bishops added that he disapproved of the style: “I think a fraternal correction and dialogue is very positive. But why a public denunciation? It doesn’t help. It only polarizes further.”
Grech also said he could “not say why there was this criticism” of the process, CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported.
He said he tried to follow the German event. “But for me, it’s one thing to follow what gets published and another thing to follow what is really going on. It’s a process.”
“Maybe the communication, in general, could have been handled better,” the cardinal said.
“This would have contributed to a better understanding of what was happening in Germany.” Nonetheless, he said, he had “confidence in the Catholic Church in Germany, and that the bishops know what they are doing.”
Born in Qala, Malta, Grech was ordained a priest in 1984, at the age of 27, for the Diocese of Gozo.
He was one of two authors of the Maltese bishops’ controversial pastoral guidelines on Amoris laetitia, which stated that divorced and remarried Catholics, in certain cases and after “honest discernment,” could receive Communion.
‘Synodal Way’ is not a Synod
The “Synodal Way” — Synodaler Weg in German, sometimes translated as “Synodal Path” — is not a synod. Instead, the process initiated by Cardinal Reinhard Marx is organized by the German Bishops’ Conference together with the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK).
The stated aim is to discuss four main topics: how power is exercised in the Church; the priesthood; the role of women, and sexual morality.
Writing about the “Synodal Way,” Pope Francis warned of disunity in his letter to German Catholics in 2019.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German theologian considered close to Pope Francis, in June 2022 warned that the German process is at risk of “breaking its own neck” if it does not heed the objections raised by a growing number of bishops around the world.
In April, more than 100 cardinals and bishops from around the world released a “fraternal open letter” to Germany’s bishops, warning that sweeping changes to Church teaching advocated by the process may lead to schism.
In March, an open letter from the Nordic bishops expressed alarm at the German process. In February, a strongly-worded letter from the president of Poland’s Catholic bishops’ conference raised serious concerns.
The president of the German bishops’ conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, has repeatedly rejected any and all concerns, instead expressing disappointment in Pope Francis in May 2022.
More recently, another organizer of the German process said the “Synodal Way” wanted to change the Church’s teaching on homosexuality by proposing “a conscious statement against the current Catholic catechism.”
He pointed to a text which not only contained comments about changing views on homosexuality but also about masturbation, marriage, sexual lust, and other related topics pertinent to Catholic doctrine.
In the statement published in July, the Vatican repeated a passage from the pope’s letter published in 2019, wherein Francis had warned — in German — of particular Churches being “separated from the entire ecclesial body,” adding that in such instances “they would weaken, rot and die.”
The members of the “Synodal Way” will meet Sept. 8-10 for what is now the fourth synodal assembly in Frankfurt, CNA Deutsch reported.