Nordic Bishops Send Letter of Concern to Bishops of Germany About the German Synodal Way

Bishops send open letter to the German Bishops' Conference
"We are concerned about the direction, methodology and content of the synodal path"
March 9, 2022

The Nordic bishops, who have gathered for their plenary session in Tromsø, have today sent a letter to the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Bätzing, expressing their concern about the synodal path and its consequences for the Catholic Church in Germany and around the world. Here follows the letter in its full length.
Excellency, dear confrere,
                      Like the German bishops' conference, the Nordic one is also meeting this week for the spring general assembly. We send warm greetings from Tromsø. We accompany you and all German confreres with our prayer for the meeting in Vierzehnheiligen and for the social and pastoral everyday life, which is becoming increasingly difficult at this time.
                      Much connects the Catholics of our countries with the Catholic Church in Germany. The post-Reformation restoration of Catholic faith life in Germany is largely due to the Catholics in Germany. Several bishops, many priests, countless women religious have generously devoted themselves to the mission in the North. Through their testimonies of Christ and their love for the Church, they created what we are building on today. Added to this is the financial aid that remains the basis for church life in the Nordic countries to this day. For everything, God bless you!
                      The challenges facing the Church worldwide are overwhelming. Of course, it is imperative that we as bishops consider how best to approach them in order to remain faithful to Christ, to meet the needs of the people of our day, and to communicate the truth of the faith.
However, we are concerned about the direction, methodology and content of the synodal path of the Church in Germany.
We see that the felt need for changes must be seen against the background of the concrete situation in Germany. At the same time, neither the issues nor the outcome of the deliberations hoped for by some are not purely German concerns. We all must and want to heal the terrible wounds of abuse. It is imperative that the suffering of the victims be acknowledged. Everything must be done to prevent abuse in the future. It is about justice: a Christian imperative. It is also about the credibility of the church.
                      The Holy Father synodally calls the whole Church to search together for life-giving potential in the life and work of the Church today. This process calls for a radical conversion. First we must rediscover and share the promises of Jesus as a source of joy, freedom and prosperity. Our task is to fully embrace, with gratitude and reverence, the depositum fidei mediated by the Church. Many believers around the world are concerned about the lifestyle of priests and their training, the position of women in the Church, the breadth of conceptions of sexuality, etc. In the legitimate search for answers to such questions of our time, we must stop at those topics , which contain unchanging portions of Church doctrine.
                      True reforms of the church have always consisted in defending, explaining and putting into credible practice the Catholic teaching founded on divine revelation and authentic tradition - not in following the spirit of the times. How fleeting the zeitgeist is is confirmed daily.
                      The worldwide synodal process has generated great expectations. We all hope for a renewal of church life, church mission. However, there is a risk that we will turn the church into a project, the object of our actions, through process thinking and structural restructuring. The synodal process presupposes the image of the Church as the pilgrim people of God. Such a people must organize themselves sensibly, that is clear. But 'people of God' is only one of the images that tradition uses to describe the nature of the Church. For our synodal discerning to bear fruit, it must be enriched and oriented by these other dimensions. It seems essential to us, precisely at this moment, to bring the sacramental mystery of the Church to the fore. How do we manage to consider with amazement - and to experience - that the church is also the corpus mysticum, the bride of Christ, and the mediator of grace? The Church cannot only be defined as a visible society. It is a mystery of communion: communion of humanity with the Triune God; communion of believers among themselves; communion of the local Churches worldwide with the Successor of Peter.
It is our experience that the Catholics who shape and sustain the life of our parishes and communities are intuitively aware of this sacramental mystery, but are not always inclined to fill out questionnaires or participate in debates. Let us not forget, in the context of the synodal process, to also listen carefully to their testimonies.
                      Especially at a time when Europe is threatening to split through deep fissures, one thing is certain: we need a higher criterion of unity. Christ alone is our hope! In his name the Church is called to be "the indestructible nucleus of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race" (Lumen Gentium, 9). Only if we base our ecclesial life ad intra on Christ and live from the fullness of his revelation will we be able to live up to this vocation.
                      It is hardly the case that an impoverishment of the content of the faith will lead to a new fullness of ecclesiastical vitality.
In the midst of the current crisis, the Church in Germany still has the potential to renew itself, of this we are convinced. As on the first day of the Gospel, we are all called to radical conversion and holiness. We commemorate with gratitude the great German saints, the theologians who have wonderfully enriched us, as well as the crowds of German missionaries who were sent all over the world and who worked humbly and inconspicuously. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of German Catholics who have ministered to needs and encouraged development. Abundant blessings will continue to spring from that legacy today.
                      So we hope and pray that the faith that has been handed down and the life in Christ that mercifully transforms us will again and continue to be secured by the church, even in a society undergoing tremendous change.
We wish you and all the confreres of the German Bishops' Conference the courage and hope to maintain unity. We remain fraternally connected to you in this great task. We confidently commend the Church in Germany especially to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church.
                      With best wishes for a blessed Lent,

Tromsø am 9. März 2022

Bischof Czeslaw Kozon, Kopenhagen, Vorsitzender

Kardinal Anders Arborelius OCD, Stockholm, stellvertretender Vorsitzender

Bischof Bernt Eidsvig Can.Reg, Oslo

Bischof David Tencer OFMCap, Reykjavik

Bischof Prälat Berislav Grgic, Tromsø

Bischof Prälat Erik Varden O.C.S.O., Trondheim

P. Marco Pasinato, Diözesanadministrator Helsinki

Bischof Peter Bürcher, Bischof em. Reykjavik

Bischof Teemu Sippo SCI, Bischof em. Helsinki

Sr. Anna Mirijam Kaschner, CPS, Generalsekretärin