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Will the German Bishops Defy Pope Francis? All Eyes Are on Augsburg to Find Out

Has the Vatican’s strategy to contain the controversial German Synodal Way had any effect?

We’re about to find out.

The German bishops are set to meet Feb. 19-22 in Augsburg for their annual Spring plenary assembly, and the stakes couldn’t be much higher.

A major question hanging over the gathering is whether the bishops will take the next step towards establishing a Synodal Council, a permanent body of bishops and laity to govern the Catholic Church in Germany, which has been explicitly forbidden by the Vatican and criticized by Pope Francis.

To do that, the bishops would need to approve the statutes of a “Synodal Committee” that is currently laying the groundwork for the forbidden council. The committee already held its first meeting November 10-11, 2023, with a majority of German ordinaries taking part. Meanwhile, one of the driving forces behind the whole Synodal Way project, the lay lobby known as the Central Committee for German Catholics (ZdK), already approved the statutes on Nov. 25.

If the German Bishops Conference (DBK) endorse the committee, it would be a dramatic act of defiance of Pope Francis—and also an indication that the Vatican’s dialogue-heavy approach has thus far failed to slow Germany’s march down a path that many fear could lead to schism.

On the other hand, if Germany’s bishops don’t go through with the measure—or even if a significant number oppose it—it would be a blow to the Synodal Way, and a sign that the Vatican’s calls to cease and desist are gaining traction.

One of these two possibilities will play out next week in Augsburg, the Bavarian city that is home to both the devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots, but also one of the most important documents of the Protestant Reformation.

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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