German Synod determined to completely undermine the priesthood

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

The following document is to be submitted to the Fourth Assembly of the Synodal Path in Germany.

German Synod determined to completely undermine the priesthood

Submission of the Synodal Forum III

“Women in Ministries and Offices in the Church” for First Reading at the Fourth Synodal Assembly (8-10.9.2022) for the proposed text “Proclamation of the Gospel by Women in Word and Sacrament”

[Voting result in the forum: 21 yes, 1 abstention]


The proclamation of the Gospel is the purpose of all the Church’s activity: in joyful assent to the existence of every living being and in constant concern for the well-being of all.

God shows himself to be at once unswervingly merciful and just. God’s promise to perceive creatures in the happiness and hardship of life and to accept them in spite of all guilt is encountered in human form in Jesus Christ. God’s spiritual power makes God’s action present in every age. Trust in this is the foundation of hope for eternal life and reconciliation of all with all at the end of time.

This Christian confession is good news for every day. At the same time, the Gospel is heard with open ears in special life situations, for example at the beginning of a faithful life that is desired for the whole of one’s life at the birth of a child, or in times of sickness, in the approach to death and mourning. In these existential life situations the church’s proclamation ministry of the church is particularly challenged. Then it is important to be present in pastoral care, in sharing joy and a successful life, in offering blessings and an uplifting word in sacramental services with all the charisms that God gives to people. Of course, women with their charisms are part of these ministries. At the same time, all pastoral workers need to be assured by the trust given to them that their actions in the above-mentioned existential situations are desired and considered effective.

The witness of God’s saving action is impoverished if the fullness of existing charisms and competences is not respected.  In Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis opens up perspectives:

“The laity can proclaim the Word, organise their communities, celebrate some sacraments, etc.” (QA 89).

In particular, the ministry of proclaiming the Word of God by women also in the celebration of the Eucharist is to be placed in the context outlined. Those who have been baptised and confirmed can be “called to co-operate with the Bishop and priests in the ministry of the Word” (Can. 759 C.).

(Canon 759 CIC 1983). In this way, well-trained persons such as parish and pastoral ministers or commissioned volunteers participate in the church’s ministry of proclamation in various forms of worship. In the Eucharistic celebration,  there is the possibility of an introduction at the beginning of the celebration (statio), the testimony of faith or the dialogue sermon. 

The practice of regular dialogue sermons and testimonies of faith should be urgently cultivated. In addition, a regulation would be necessary in Germany at the level of the German Bishops’ Conference, by means of which those qualified and commissioned to serve in the church (e.g. parish and pastoral assistants, theologians and religious education teachers who are not active in pastoral ministry) would, on the basis of their competence, have, in principle, permission to preach in all the usual forms in the celebration of the Eucharist .

This is already good practice in some (arch)dioceses. Pastoral workers are, among other things in intensive contact with families of baptised children, the sick and their relatives or young couples. Many women work full-time or in an honorary capacity in hospital chaplaincy, hospice work hospice work, telephone chaplaincy, counselling or the railway station mission. In such of church activity, people are open to a conversation about their life situation.

Many people come to monasteries to make a whole life confession in the context of a retreat or a spiritual conversation, also with religious women; prayers with the request for forgiveness are experienced as helpful. In people’s perception, there is a painful rupture in pastoral care if the pastoral workers do not also take over the the celebration of baptism, the sacrament of reconciliation or the anointing of the sick. It would be coherent with the sacramental character of the pastoral care that a pastoral worker could also celebrate the sacrament in the context of the specific pastoral care as desired.

German Dioceses have in the meantime issued or are currently working on ordinances for the commissioning of laywomen for the extraordinary administration of baptism. In the context of the universal Church, women are increasingly acting on their own responsibility in the organisation of sacramental celebrations, not only in the celebration of baptism, but also in the celebration of the sacrament which takes effect in the promise of two people to love and respect each other throughout their lives.


1. The German bishops strive to increase the proportion of women and to achieve greater diversity in the preaching ministry (By the Apostolic Exhortation in the form of a Motu proprio amending Can. 230 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law on Access to the Ministry of Lectors and Acolytes of 10 January 2021. Pope Francis also decreed an opening relevant to the universal Church: important ecclesiastical ministries should not only be open to men, but in principle to all the baptised.). They are revising the preaching order currently in force. They advocate that preaching should be accessible not only to men, but in principle to all the baptised.

A particular norm to Canon 766 CIC 1983, through which theologically and homiletically qualified non-ordained pastors can be permanently appointed as preachers of the Gospel.

The new preaching order defines the preaching of the Gospel in the local church according to the pastoral needs of the local ordinariate in all forms of worship. The new preaching order defines criteria for the granting of the authority to preach (facultas) or the commissioning to preach (missio) and applies them to both ordained and non-ordained preachers.

The Bishops and other liturgically responsible persons treat the homily (interpretation of Scripture of the Gospel in the celebration of the Eucharist) and other forms of proclamation as part of the ministry of full-time ministers. The bishops and other persons responsible for the liturgy should treat the homily and other forms of proclamation as part of the ministry of full-time and appropriately trained persons (priests, deacons, pastoral assistants, parish workers).

They commission pastoral workers to preach in the Eucharistic celebration together with their ecclesial mission (missio canonica), so that they can carry out their preaching ministry officially and in the name of the Church.

2. The pastoral need for the introduction of extraordinary baptism will be examined in the dioceses and the possibility of introducing it will be created accordingly. Experiences with the administration of baptism by lay people shall be evaluated in the dioceses; the results shall be presented to the Diocesan councils after three years.  In the formal bodies of the German Bishops’ Conference, taking into account existing documents in individual German dioceses and in the universal Church, a framework regulation for the the commissioning of lay people to lead the celebration of baptism and to assist in marriages. Training courses for men and women who are willing to perform such services are being developed. 

3. The Pastoral Commission of the German Bishops’ Conference coordinates a consultation process in which members of Division 1 of the German Lay Catholic Association (Theology, Pastoral and Ecumenism), of the Conference of Religious Superiors, as well as women’s, men’s and youth associations. are to be involved: In view of the current pastoral contexts, it will be examined how existing ministries and offices can be further developed and which new ministries and ministries are to be designed with which the church can respond to new challenges.  This will also include possibilities of reviving lay confession in the context of spiritual support will be discussed. The importance of the blessing of the sick and the anointing of the sick in view of all pastoral workers who are active in the pastoral care of the sick will also be considered. The entire wealth of the of pastoral action already practised in the history of the Church is to be rediscovered.


On1. According to Lumen Gentium 31, all the faithful, by virtue of their baptism, share in the ministry of sanctification, proclamation and leadership. By virtue of their baptism and their autonomous mission founded therein, lay people have the duty and the right to participate in the spreading of the divine message of salvation (Canon 225 CIC 1983). This mission of proclamation refers to their life as well as to the fact that they are “called to collaborate with the Bishop and the priests in the exercise of the ministry of the Word” (Canon 759 CIC 1983).  The 2nd Vatican Council signals openness by not condemning lay preaching.

According to current canon law, lay people may preach in churches or chapels in various forms of worship according to the regulations of the bishops’ conference (Canon 766 CIC 1983), but the homily is reserved for ordained ministers. The canon law code aims at not neglecting the ministry of preaching on Sundays and principal feast days; for “it may be omitted only for serious reasons” (Canon 767 § 2 CIC 1983). The diocesan bishop, as director of the entire ministry of the Word of God (cf. Canon 756 § 2 CIC 1983) has the task of assuring the quality of the sermon. He carries this out, for example, by the possible restriction or withdrawal of the authority to preach, as well as the possibility of granting explicit permission for preaching. With regard to the indispensable quality of preaching and the professionalism of pastoral activity, the interpretation of Scripture according to the Gospel should be undertaken by competent persons trained for this purpose.

2 These include priests and deacons with the appropriate training as well as non-ordained faithful who have completed theological studies and homiletic-pastoral training – often in training – not infrequently in community with people preparing for sacramental ministry.. The reciprocal interconnectedness of the proclamation of the word and the and celebration of the Eucharistic meal remains recognisable even when – as is already often the case several people share responsibility for services in the liturgy.

Increasingly there is an awareness that, with regard to an abuse-sensitive liturgy, the participation of women in the preaching ministry is very important. People who have experienced sexualised violence by clergy repeatedly express the need to participate in liturgical celebrations that are not dominated by clergy on the level of outward appearance alone.

(Cathcon: stereotyping of the worst kind)

On 2: Many baptismal candidates and families of baptised children today have not experienced any church socialisation. Pastoral workers often find access to these people in their work in people through activities in day care centres or through preparation for the sacraments. The connection between the pastoral care of the sacraments and the celebration of the sacraments is of great importance. The foreseeable personnel and structural development in the dioceses shows that already now or at least soon, there will no longer be a sufficient numbers from ordinary baptism ministry. It is therefore all the more important to strengthen the baptismal awareness of all in the local parishes, to which the introduction of the extraordinary authority to baptise can contribute. In 2015, the German bishops emphasised in their word “Being Church Together”: 

“Current blockades can be dissolved if we fulfil the common calling to holiness through baptism.” (Page 27).

According to Canon 861 § 2 CIC 1983 (incorporated in the Instruction of the Congregation for the Clergy.

“The Pastoral Conversion of the Parish in Service to the Missionary Church”, 2020), the local Ordinary can, according to prudent discretion, in addition to the ordinary ministers of Baptism (Bishop, priest, deacon) can entrust further people with power to baptise if there is not a sufficient number of ordinary ministers available (cf. also Canon 230 § 3 CI 1983).

Forms of marriage preparation and the accompaniment of married couples with their families pose a great pastoral challenge. The celebration of marriage is to be integrated as far as possible into the event of an encounter with members of the Christian community, who themselves have experience of married life .The whole congregation should be concerned to bear authentic witness to the values of a marriage lived out in Christ. According to Canon 1112 CIC 1983, the Diocesan Bishop may, on the basis of a prior opinion of the Bishops’ Conference and after obtaining permission from the Holy See, delegate lay persons to assist in marriage.

On 3: The Church is “a sign and instrument of the most intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race” (LG 1).  Its services and ministries are also to be thought of in this way. Their diversity has developed historically, not least because of pastoral challenges, concerns and necessities. In the necessary revitalisation and and further development of ministries and offices, it is also necessary to consider which sign and rituals are meaningful to people today.

In connection with the Biblical talk of therapeutically effective charisms (cf. 1 Cor 12,4- 11; Rom 12:6-8), it is appropriate to trust in the work of God’s Spirit through gifted women and men who at the same time comfort and admonish, know how to discern the spirits, impart knowledge and heal illnesses.

The criterion for the legitimacy of the activity is, in Paul’s sense, whether the ministries benefit other people. Women and men are called as baptised persons to express their trust in God’s nearness and their hope in God’s mercy in every way. Individuals are gifted in a special way with the gifts of God’s Spirit, which have a healing effect and encourage. Many baptised women and men display the appropriate professional training.


Leave a Reply