Germany’s synodal assembly a step to rebuilding church’s credibility

Light of truth

Catholic leaders in Germany have compiled responses from lay Catholics in areas related to who holds power in the church, sexual morals, the role of priests and the place of women in church offices in preparation for an upcoming Synodal Assembly to debate church reforms. More than 940 suggestions and questions had been submitted by early January in advance of the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 assembly in Frankfurt, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.

The Synodal Assembly is one segment of the synodal path, which the German bishops agreed to stage at their annual meeting last March.

The Synodal Assembly will include 230 members. It is the highest decision-making body of the synodal path, an effort by the bishops’ conference and lay Central Committee of German Catholics to restore trust following a September 2018 church-commissioned report that detailed thousands of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy over six decades.

Comments will continue to be accepted through Jan. 23 at the website of the German bishops’ conference. The bishops and the lay group are collaborating in planning the Synodal Assembly. During a September plenary meeting, the bishops approved statutes to guide discussions at the assembly.

The bishops’ conference and the committee each will send 69 members to the assembly. Decisions of the assembly must be passed by a double two-thirds majority: two-thirds of all participants as well as two-thirds of all members present from the bishops’ conference.

German church officials say the Synodal Assembly is not meant to be a Synod in the classic sense.

In describing the synodal path, KNA reported that the inclusion of the term synodal in the name of the reform process reflects that the dialogue, initially limited to two years, is more than a nonbinding conversation. As with a Synod, each respective local bishop will determine whether the decisions reached will be implemented.

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