As expected, German bishops, priests, and laymen have been responding favorably to the Amazon Synod’s final report that called for “ministries” for women, the ordination of married men, and an “Amazonian rite.” Katholisch.de, the news website of the German Bishops’ Conference, is now eagerly publishing many of these supportive statements.
Access to priesthood shouldn’t be determined by ‘Y chromosome’
Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck – who said in May of this year that in the Church “nothing will be the same” after the synod – promptly gave an interview in which he claimed that “the themes of the synod are here, just as there, important for everyone.”
Overbeck is responsible for the German relief agency Adveniat which was heavily involved in the preparations for the Amazon Synod in Rome, and Overbeck also took part in an important privately held meeting near Rome with Cardinals Lorenzo Baldisseri and Walter Kasper which openly proposed to allow female deacons.
Now, in the wake of the Amazon Synod, Bishop Overbeck proposed that it’s now time to consider female priests.
Stated Overbeck: “Can one, for example, make a link between the access to the priesthood and the Y chromosome by justifying it with the Will of Jesus?” “Most people do not understand this anymore and also do not believe in it. I myself am also more than pensive.”
Overbeck also questioned once more the Church’s teaching against homosexuality, distancing himself from previous words spoken years ago when he called homosexual practices sinful. While he had once held that “there exists a really fulfilled love only between a man and a woman,” he made it clear that “I do not hold this opinion anymore today.”
‘End of obligatory celibacy’
Another article published on Katholisch.de reported on the words of Jesuit priest, Wunibald Müller, a strong defender of homosexual relationships and of the abolishment of priestly celibacy.
He is quoted as saying about the Amazon Synod that “it will go down in history as the synod with which the end of obligatory celibacy was heralded.”
“With the [Amazon Synod’s] recommendation to ordain morally proven, married men to the priesthood, the dam finally broke which heretofore hindered the abolishment of obligatory celibacy.”
Germany influenced by Amazon
In yet another post on Katholisch.de, Abbot Jeremias Schröder comments on the Amazon Synod. His article is titled “From the Amazon to the Spree [a river in Berlin] – inspirations for the ‘synodal path’”; this title speciously implies that the ideas for reforms really come from the Amazon region and that Germany now should pick up on them.
“Why not pick up on some of the aspects?” asks Schröder, adding that, while during the Second Vatican Council, there was much talk about the Rhine flowing into the Tiber, it could now go into the “reverse direction.” He praises the synod’s final report for “keeping questions open,” rather than “putting forth categorical demands.” This way, he explains, “something is put into motion without snubbing too much.”
The German Bishops’ Conference itself took immediate action. Yesterday, they published the controversial statutes of the “synodal path” that is to question the Church’s teaching on priestly celibacy, human sexuality, and the role of women in the Church. While the German bishops did slightly change the titles of their discussion forums and also removed the binding character of the “synodal path” – something that was strongly criticized from dicasteries in Rome – they will continue their likely “path of destruction,” in the words of one of the few opposing bishops, Rudolf Voderholzer.
‘Success for Pope Francis’
A frank statement was made about the Synod from the editor-in-chief of Christ&Welt, the religion section of the German newspaper Die Zeit, Raoul Löbbert. Commenting in an upcoming October 30 article as an outsider and observer of the Amazon Synod, he calls this synod an “event with meaning for the Universal Church and a success for Pope Francis.” He said that the synod was more about priestly celibacy than about the Amazon. He said that the synod’s final report “tries to avoid the impression” that “celibacy is part of history.” By pointing out that the idea to admit some married priests is only meant for the Amazon region, Löbbert explained, “the [synod’s final] document covers up its symbolic effect for the Universal Church.”
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