Pope issues warning to German Catholics
Pope Francis has criticized reforms suggested by a progressive German Catholic movement, which would include allowing women to become deacons and permitting same-sex relationships in an effort to address dwindling numbers.
“I say to German Catholics: Germany has a great and beautiful evangelical church; I do not want another one, which will not be as good as that one,” Francis told a German journalist during his trip to Bahrain on Sunday. He was responding to a question about declining church membership.
The German Catholic Church risks falling into “ethical discussions… about contingent things” that have nothing to do with the “core of theology” but would still have “theological consequences,” he warned.
The Pope then urged Germans to seek inspiration in the “simple religiosity that you find in grandparents.” He maintained that he did not suggest going “backwards” but rather going “to the roots,” adding that otherwise the religion could turn into “an ethicism disguised as Christianity.”
In June, German media reported that “hundreds of thousands” of Germans had officially resigned their membership of both Catholic and Protestant churches. Over the past 15 years, the number of people who belonged to either of the two churches reportedly fell from 61% of the population to less than 50%.
Back in late 2019, the German Catholic Church launched a series of conferences called the Synodal Path aimed at discussing theological and organizational issues. In February 2022, these conferences endorsed a list of proposals directed at the Vatican in particular. The list included granting women a right to become priests, allowing priests to marry, blessing same-sex relationships, and reviewing the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexual ethics altogether.
The head of the German Catholic Church, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, called the celibacy rule “precarious,” arguing that a right to marry would be “better for [Catholic priests’] lives and they wouldn’t be so lonely.”