In January, two Vatican cardinals wanted to summon the president of the German bishops’ conference to Rome and correct him about a media interview in which he expressed his dissent from Church teaching in a number of areas. Such a meeting, which some believe should have been used to give the Vatican’s formal opposition to the Synodal Path, never happened and now the German bishops are blazing ahead unfettered, drawing grave concerns of possible schism.
Jesuit Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Swiss president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, were concerned about comments Bishop Georg Bätzing made in a lengthy interview with the German publication Herder Korrespondenz published at the end of December.
In the largely overlooked interview, headlined “I Want Change” and published over the New Year, Bishop Bätzing of Limburg began by describing himself as a “good conservative because I love this Church and gladly give my life and energy to it. But I want it to change.” He then went on to directly challenge the Church’s teaching and tradition regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood, the blessing of same-sex unions, priestly celibacy and Holy Communion for Protestants. Limiting ordination to men seemed to him “less and less convincing,” he said, adding that “there are well-developed theological arguments in favor of opening the sacramental ministry to women as well.”