Synodal ‘Dead End’


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As Germany’s Synodal Path continues, more prelates are speaking out. Now 74 bishops from around the world — 49 of them American — penned a letter cautioning the German Church is heading for a dead end.

Church Militant’s William Mahoney examines the arguments.

The open letter released on Monday contains the direst warning to date for German bishops: “Christian history is littered with well-intended efforts that lost their grounding.”

It continues: “They were fruitless and damaged both the unity and the evangelical vitality of the Church. Germany’s Synodal Path risks leading to precisely such a dead end.”

The prelates list several important reasons for their conclusions.

First, the Synodal Path displays “a patina of religious ideas and vocabulary” but seems “largely inspired not by Scripture and Tradition … but by sociological analysis and contemporary political, including gender, ideologies.”

The letter also points out the Synodal Path “seems to reinterpret, and thus diminish, the meaning of Christian freedom.”

“Freedom is not ‘autonomy,'” the letter emphasizes.

It further explains: “For the Christian, freedom is the knowledge, the willingness and the unhampered ability to do what is right. … Authentic freedom, as the Church teaches, is tethered to truth and ordered to goodness and, ultimately, beatitude.”

Another criticism leveled at the German bishops is the Synodal Path, “at nearly every step, is the work of experts and committees.”

It’s described as being “bureaucracy-heavy, obsessively critical and inward-looking,” and showing “more submission and obedience to the world and ideologies than to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”

Its preoccupation with power, says the letter, “suggests a spirit fundamentally at odds with the real nature of Christian life.”

The letter notes the “Church is not merely an ‘institution’ but an organic community; not egalitarian but familial, complementary and hierarchical.”

But the confusion happening in Germany may soon spread throughout the world. Planners for the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality next year have been gathering input mostly from people who are not living the Catholic faith.

The German bishops have always claimed the Synodal Path is not a synod but a one-off event that “opens up new spaces in which innovative action can be taken.”

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