Bishop Schneider on the German Church

Pax Christi

This erudite and valuable article written by His Lordship, The Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider O.R.C., is a telling explanation of the situation of the Catholic Church in Germany. Many of you are aware that in Germany, bishops, amongst other things, have called for the blessing of same-sex unions, rethinking the Church’s eternal teaching on contraception, proposed that women could become ordained deacons, have advocated that crucifixes have no place in law courts (as some German states have them in law courts), and allow dissenting but rich Catholic lay-organisations to dictate the direction of the Church in Germany.

Indeed, none of us can stay silent as even the Successors of the Apostles in Germany call into question fundamental aspects of our Faith. Some have criticised Bishop Schneider as being too pedantic, or unnecessarily legalistic. This is false. I can attest that he does everything out of love for the Church; he actually took the time to personally respond to a message I sent to him, a humble layperson, via his website, giving me prudential and genuine advice. He is an exemplary bishop and just what we need in these times.

In Christo Jesu

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From the article:

Were the Pope not to correct the heretical decisions of the “synodal path,” he would thereby consent to them by his silence.

The Church has faced this before at the time of Pope Vigilius (Three Chapters Controversy) who was imprisoned by the emperor at the time of the fifth ecumenical council (Second Council of Constantinople). At first the Pope was unable to judge the writings, not understanding Greek, but later came to understand them and condemned them in 553 A.D. Other bishops did not condemn it and were Arians (Schism of the Thee Chapters, 553 to 698).

The Pope already warned the German bishops prior to the start of this “synodal path”. The Vatican - specifically CDF or Congregation for Bishops, one of the two - also followed up and clarified that this “synodal path” would not in anyway be binding. As far as I can tell, the bishops decided to proceed anyway. Whether the Pope will intervene again I can’t say…

I believe the German synod ends sometime in 2021 (though I can’t find the exact date, most information is probably on German websites that I can’t read). I am looking forward to the finish for two reasons:

  1. To see what is actually in the German Bishops’ final document; i.e., to see how far they will really go, and;

  2. To see what Pope Francis’/the Vatican’s response is. This to me is the most interesting part because of all of the conflicting interests and the half-hearted responses that have come so far.

My guess is that there will be some sort of compromise that will allow the Germans to implement some controversial practices/policies and not others. Or, the Vatican will take no action and leave the whole thing in limbo indefinitely. I would be surprised if the Vatican slaps down their proposals altogether, no matter how radical or heretical they are.


The four main issues of the synod are are:

  • the way power is exercised in the Church,
  • sexual morality,
  • the priesthood,
  • the role of women in ministries and offices in the Church.

Ordination of women is a closed matter already.

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Yes, something like that obviously won’t be approved, but I could see some other heterodox things they are proposing getting a more nuanced reaction (such as blessing same-sex “marriages” or civil unions, especially with Pope Francis’ recently publicized comments on the topic).


The Church does not bless what is sinful so I can’t see blessing civil unions of Catholics occurring.

The one issue I could see them pushing for is Orthodox style penitential second and third marriage. Deaconess could also be desired, but without receiving Holy Orders.

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Who knows what they will propose? Nothing will surprise me. Bishop Batzing said that Germany could gain an ‘indult’ for them to ordain women as deacons (by the way, his theologically orthodox predecessor was removed by Pope Francis for overspending on construction projects in the diocese, and it shocks me that Bishop Batzing, whose views are far more dangerous, is still the bishop of the Diocese of Limburg).

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The ambiguity arises in that the totality of the relationship is not sinful. Probably much will be made of that.

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Yes, this is my thought about why something like this is not going to be totally off the table. There have been numerous bishops making comments over recent years talking about finding “positive aspects” in gay marriages (most notably at the synod on the family in 2014 and 2015) so I could see some wiggle room for the German bishops to argue using this tactic, and not have it rejected outright. I could see some bishops arguing for some kind of blessing of same-sex marriages, with some language inserted into the the ritual implying that it is only the “friendship” being blessed, and not any sexual component.

Just to be clear, I am definitely not arguing in favor of this and in fact I think this would be wrong on many levels and for numerous reasons, but this is the kind of argument I think bishops in favor of this kind of thing would make and is my best guess at the tact that the German bishops would take in pushing for this.

You are certainly right about this. Deaconesses will for sure be something the Germans will try for (they have already stated something to that effect), and I could definitely see them going for blessings for invalid marriages such as you describe given all of the intercommunion proposals that are always being pushed for in Germany.

Actually it is. The acts are sinful, as is the failure to avoid the near occasion of sin.

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You mention 2 sins that may arise in some (even most) cases. This is still not the totality of the relationship.

Opposite sex civil marriage involving a Catholic are not blessed by the Church, so it follows that it would not be for homosexual civil unions either.

Tell it to the German bishops who I understand propose some alteration to practice.

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OK. Listen bishops that are on this thread: In Familiaris consortio, St. John Paul II stipulated that the divorced-and-remarried, in order to receive absolution in confession which would open the way to receiving Communion, must take on the duty to live in complete continence but only when who for serious reasons cannot separate (and avoiding giving scandal, e.g. receiving in secret or at a parish where one is not known). The basis is that those two do not have freedom to marry. Now, if civil unions of same-sex couples is compared, it would also require those conditions, for same-sex couples also are bound to complete continence.

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