German bishops’ summit considers women and lay roles as answer to abuse crisis

Religion News Service

February 1, 2021

By Claire Giangravé

While the summit officially affects only Germany, the bishops’ discussions will likely have consequences for the global church.

Germany’s Catholic bishops will resume discussions this week to plan the Synodal Path, a set of conferences slated to address controversial questions such as women’s roles and LGBTQ acceptance, even as the country faces yet another scandal of sexual abuse by clergy.

Many churchmen believe that the social questions and the abuse crisis are related. “The abuse crisis hurts the church very deeply,” the Rev. Martin Maier, a Jesuit priest and former editor at the German Catholic magazine Voices of the Time (Stimmen der Zeit), told Religion News Service. “One of the most painful consequences is the loss of trust. One of the goals of the Synodal Path is to restore trust, which is crucial and vital.”

Started in 2019 and scheduled to last two years, Synodal Path was put on hold in September 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its purpose is to debate questions of power structures in the Catholic Church, priestly life, sexual morality and the role of women in the church.

While the bishops’ summit officially considers only Germany’s local dioceses and parishes, the discussions and decisions will likely have consequences around the global church. Bishops from Australia to South America and Ireland are grappling with the devastating impact that the sexual abuse crisis has had, as well as with mounting secularization that has depleted church attendance and vocations.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.