Rome asked — begged, actually — the German bishops to take an off-ramp from their Synodal Way, which demands significant changes in Catholic doctrine, sacramental practice and ecclesial governance. The Germans refused. At the speeds traveled on the autobahn, the coming crash is going to be dreadful.
What recently unfolded in Rome was devastating for the unity of the Church. That the threat of division would come from Germany is absolutely to be expected in the long view of history, but it remains something of a surprise under Pope Francis.
While Pope Francis initially dreamt of a “poor Church for the poor,” he pursued instead an agenda for the rich: Holy Communion for those in invalid marriages, more national control over liturgical books, pastoral priorities light on sexual morality and heavy on climate change. No matter. The richest of all local Churches is now committed to rebellion, and there is nothing that Rome can do about it. The Pope inveighs against “backwardism” but finds himself, vis-à-vis Germany, in the morass of the 1970s. It will be different this time around, though. The rest of the Church is not similarly situated. Thus the Holy Father’s synodal process on synodality for a synodal Church will soon become a high-speed multi-vehicle crash.
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