The German Catholic Church’s “Synodal Way” will be extended to 2023 after its plenary session ended abruptly on Saturday following votes in favor of a text endorsing same-sex blessings and a discussion of whether the priesthood is necessary.
Bishop Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German bishops’ conference, and Thomas Sternberg, president of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), announced the extension on Oct. 2, at the end of the second synodal assembly in Frankfurt, southwestern Germany, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.
The synodal assembly is the supreme decision-making body of the Synodal Way, a multi-year process bringing together bishops and lay people to discuss four main topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.
The Synodal Way, launched on Dec. 1, 2019, was originally expected to end in October 2021, but was extended to February 2022 due to the pandemic. The latest extension means that the controversial process will last more than three years.
The Church in Germany is facing an exodus of Catholics in the wake of a clerical abuse crisis. More than 220,000 people formally left the Church in 2020. Only 5.9% of Germany’s Catholics attended Mass last year, compared to 9.1% in 2019.
The synodal assembly ended earlier than expected on Saturday afternoon after Bätzing asked organizers to count whether the meeting had a quorum of 154 participants after many departed early.
They determined that there were only 149 participants, five short of the two-thirds majority required to have a quorum.
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