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Roman Curia and German bishops meet to discuss synodality

A joint statement from the Holy See and the German Bishops’ Conference highlights the ongoing dialogue, begun in 2022, about finding ways to implement concrete forms of synodality in the Church in Germany.

Vatican News

In accordance with Pope Francis’ wishes, representatives of the Roman Curia and the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) met at the Vatican on Friday for further talks, following  the dialogue that began with the ad limina visit of the German bishops in November 2022 and continued most recently with discussions on 22 March 2024.

Concrete forms of exercising synodality

The day-long dialogue, according to a joint statement released on Friday evening, was once again characterized by a positive, open, and constructive atmosphere. The basis for the discussion was the agreement of 22 March 2024, which provides for the elaboration of concrete forms of the exercise of Synodality in the Church in Germany – in accordance with the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, the provisions of Canon Law, and the fruits of the Synod of the Universal Church – to be presented to the Holy See for approval (“recognitio”).

The synod committee meeting.

In the exchange, the bishops spoke about the last meeting of the Synod Committee – a temporary working body – during which the theological foundations and the possibility of the legal realization of a national synod body were discussed. Friday’s meeting focused on the relationship between the exercise of episcopal ministry and the promotion of the co-responsibility of all the faithful and, in particular, on aspects of canon law for the establishment of a concrete form of synodality in the Church in Germany. The statement noted that the desire and commitment to strengthen synodality in the life of the Church, with a view to more effective evangelization, was shared by the Bishops and the representatives of the Curia.

Changes in the proposal for a national synod body

“A commission established by the Synodal Committee will deal with issues related to synodality and the structure of a synodal body,” the statement explains. The commission “will work in close contact with a similar commission composed of representatives of the competent Dicasteries to draft a proposal.”

The statement notes that “Two important aspects emerged for the representatives of the Roman Curia: they would like to see a change in the name and in several aspects of the previously formulated proposal for a possible national synodal body. Regarding the place of this body, there is agreement that it is neither above nor at the same level as the Bishops’ Conference.”

Upcoming talks after the synod

The issue of the future composition of the German Bishops’ Conference delegation participating in the dialogue between representatives of the Roman Curia and those of the Bishops’ Conference itself was also discussed. “The talks will continue after the conclusion of the Synod of the Universal Church and in them other issues of an anthropological, ecclesiological and liturgical nature will also be discussed.”

Participants

Taking part in the discussions were Cardinals Victor Manuel Fernandéz, Kurt Koch, Pietro Parolin, Robert Prevost, and Arthur Roche, as well as Archbishop Filippo Iannone, representing the Roman Curia.

The German Bishops were represented by DBK President Bishop Georg Bätzing along with Bishops Stephan Ackermann, Bertram Meier and Franz-Josef Overbeck – chairmen respectively of the Bishops’ Commissions for the Liturgy, for the Universal Church, and for the Faith – as well as the General Secretary of the Conference, Beate Gilles; and the spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference, Matthias Kopp.

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