Francis warns German Catholics they can’t just do their own thing


June 29, 2019

By Inés San Martín

As the Catholic Church in Germany prepares to embark on a synodal process motivated in part by a desire to stop a hemorrhage of faithful, Pope Francis has sent them a letter reminding them they don’t walk alone but with the universal Church.

In the missive he also reminds the Germans that a “structural” reform, simply changing to adapt to modern times, is not the solution.

The Church’s raison d’etre, Francis wrote in a letter released by the Vatican Saturday, is that God “so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that all who believe in him may not die, but may have eternal Life.”

This means that the transformation and revitalization sought after by the German Church, with a synod called by the bishops’ conference, cannot simply be a “reaction to external data or demands,” including a drop in births and aging communities. Though these are “valid causes,” Francis wrote, seen outside the ecclesial mystery they could stimulate a reactionary attitude.

The pope’s letter to the Catholics of Germany comes three months after Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising announced that the local church was embarking on a “binding synodal process” to tackle what he says are the three key issues arising from the clerical abuse crisis: Priestly celibacy, the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, and a reduction of clerical power.

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