One hopes that Pope Francis is also aware that the appointment of a man such as Bishop Wilmer as Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith would throw into crisis the Synod on Synodality that has become the centerpiece of his pontificate.
Bishop Heiner Wilmer, SCJ, the boyishly handsome bishop of Hildesheim in Lower Saxony, would likely not object to being counted among the most progressive bishops in a German episcopate dominated by progressives. Nor is the 61-year-old Dehonian priest and former Superior General of the Priests of the Sacred Heart shy in expressing his opinions. Thus, in 2020, at the height of the COVID plague and governmental restrictions on church attendance in Germany, Bishop Wilmer had no criticism of the “gathering ban” but had this to say about live-streamed Masses for those forbidden from gathering in churches:
I personally don’t feel comfortable with all this streaming. We have said here in the diocese, we have an official streaming service, but also only audio, from the Hildesheim Cathedral. I personally don’t think it’s good if every parish priest, every priest streams from some little chapel or from the living room…..It also can’t be that we are only fixated on the Eucharist! Of course it is important, but the Second Vatican Council says that the Lord is not only present in the Eucharist, but also in the Holy Scriptures, in the reading of the Bible, and we should take seriously the word of Jesus, where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Then, when his interlocutor asked, “Does that mean the Eucharist is overrated, and you’re advocating trying other forms of cohesion, even communal experience?” Bishop Wilmer replied is these striking terms:
Well, in the reaction of some believers, the Eucharist is already overrated. As if there were nothing else.
Such seeming insouciance about what the Second Vatican Council called the “source and summit” of the Church’s life runs parallel to what appears to be the bishop of Hildesheim’s indifference to doctrine. Thus, in opening the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality for a Synodal Church in Hildesheim cathedral, Bishop Wilmer declared himself, in so many words, a fervent disciple of the Zeitgeist:
We need a new look at sexuality and a new way of thinking about the ministry of the priest. We need a new look at gender-just participation for everyone in the church, men and women alike…
As for the purpose of the Synod on Synodality for a Synodal Church, Wilmer declared that “the pope wants to turn the Church upside down.” And doing so would require that “everyone also has to let go of something, including their own convictions,” in order to hear “what the Spirit wants to say to us.”(The bishop did not indicate that the “Spirit” might be “saying” that we should “let go” of the truths embodied in Scripture or the convictions expressed in the Nicene Creed, but one could only wonder what limiting principle would be available to temper “everyone letting go of something” to the point where we all let go of everything.)Bishop Heiner Wilmer, this Catholic Moment, and the Catholic Future – Catholic World Report