Official: German ‘Synodal Way’ Is a ‘Conscious Statement Against Catechism’

In an opinion piece on ‘LGBT Catholic resource’ website, German layman says controversial process aims to change the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

Marc Frings speaks at a press conference of the German ‘Synodal Way’ on Feb. 4.
Marc Frings speaks at a press conference of the German ‘Synodal Way’ on Feb. 4. (photo: Synodaler Weg/Max von Lachner / via CNA)

The German “Synodal Way” is aiming to change the Church’s teaching on homosexuality by proposing “a conscious statement against the current Catholic catechism,” according to a leading protagonist of the controversial process.

Marc Frings, the secretary-general of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), said the “Synodal Way” – sometimes referred to as “Synodal Path” — was “a conscious statement against the current Catholic catechism, which has been critical and disparaging of homosexuality since the mid-1970s and still reproaches homosexual activity as sin.”

His comments were published on July 17 in German and English by “Outreach,” a website edited by Jesuit Father James Martin that describes itself as an “LGBT Catholic resource.”

The title of the opinion piece referred to the controversial process, which is not a synod, as “the German synod.” When contacted by CNA Deutsch with a request for clarification, Frings said he had asked “Outreach” to correct the mistake, explaining he himself had not written the title.

Quoting the “Synodal Way,” Frings further wrote: “The recognition of the equality and legitimacy of non-heterosexual orientations, their practices and relationships, as well as the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation, is urgently required.” 

The official also pointed to a text of the forum on “Life in Succeeding Relationships: Living Love in Sexuality and Partnership,” which not only contains comments about changing views on homosexuality but also about masturbation, marriage, sexual lust and other related topics.

The German layman also connected the “Synodal Way” to a prominent “LGBT”-campaign in Germany titled “#OutInChurch — For a church without fear,” which was launched on Jan. 24. 

The campaign appealed for the revision of what it described as “defamatory and outdated” expressions of Catholic doctrine, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

In a seven-point list of demands, the organizers wrote: “Defamatory and outdated statements of Church doctrine on sexuality and gender need to be revised on the basis of theological and human-scientific findings.”

“This is of utmost relevance, especially in view of worldwide Church responsibility for the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons.”

The initiative, backed publicly by 125 people, including priests, religion teachers and Church employees, also appealed for blessings and “access to the sacraments” for same-sex couples.

The campaign — launched with a blaze of publicity in Germany, with an accompanying television program — was welcomed on behalf of the bishops’ conference by Bishop Helmut Dieser, chairman of the “Synodal Way” forum on “Life in Succeeding Relationships.”

Organizers held a day of protest in response to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s declaration that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions.

The Vatican statement, issued with the approval of Pope Francis, sparked protests in the German-speaking Catholic world.

Several bishops expressed support for blessings of same-sex couples, while churches displayed LGBT pride flags, and a group of more than 200 theology professors signed a statement criticizing the Vatican.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible.”

“This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

“These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition,” it continues.

It adds: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne attends a German Synodal Way assembly on March 9, 2023.

Four German Bishops Resist Push to Install Permanent ‘Synodal Council’

Given the Vatican’s repeated interventions against the German process, the bishops said they would instead look to the Synod of Bishops in Rome. Meanwhile, on Monday, German diocesan bishops approved the statutes for a synodal committee; and there are reports that the synodal committee will meet again in June.