The German bishops’ plenary assembly began with urgent appeals for church reform and a reminder to heed admonitions from Pope Francis.
Bishop Georg Bätzing, conference president, called on all bishops to embrace radical change, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. He said visible changes were need-ed soon in the Synodal Path German church reform project, which could be a “door opener” for the worldwide synodal process launched by the Pope.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Ni-kola Eterovic, the Pope’s ambassador to Germany, repeatedly urged the bishops to preserve the unity of the church and to follow the Pope’s directives.
At the start of the Sept. 20-23 assembly, Catholic reform groups and women’s associations held demonstrations demanding rapid and fundamental reforms, warning that this was the only way for the church to restore its credibility.
Bätzing called on his fellow bishops to agree radical changes are needed in the way they work and in their understanding of their ministry. In his sermon at the opening service, the Limburg bishop criticized the way some bishops have acted in preparation for the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Synodal Assembly, part of the Synodal Path, an attempt to revitalize the church and restore trust follow-ing a September 2018 church-commissioned report that detailed thousands of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy over six decades.