A ‘Dirty Schism’ in Germany? As Synodal Way Nears Conclusion, Lay Group Warns of ‘Worst Possible’ Outcome| National Catholic Register

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

NEWS ANALYSIS: Without decisive intervention from Rome, faithful Catholics in Germany are likely to be pushed ‘underground,’ cautions New Beginning

Synod members attend the final day of the "Synadoler Weg" Catholic Reform Movement Congress on February 05, 2022 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Synod members attend the final day of the “Synadoler Weg” Catholic Reform Movement Congress on February 05, 2022 in Frankfurt, Germany. (photo: Thomas Lohnes / Getty)

Jonathan Liedl VaticanJanuary 23, 2023

Observers of the Catholic Church in Germany have long feared that the country’s ongoing Synodal Way would lead to a split from Rome. And after the German bishops refused a Vatican request in November to put a “moratorium” on the controversial process and its push for women’s ordination, lay governance, and approval of homosexual sex, those fears were likely only heightened.

But barring a more decisive intervention from the Holy See, an outcome even more damaging than a formal break from the universal Church is emerging as the most likely possibility: a “dirty schism.”

“Dirty schism” describes the situation in Germany if the heterodoxical dictates of the Synodal Way become the norm throughout Germany, without the Vatican sufficiently intervening. In this context, heterodoxical bishops would still canonically govern most of Germany’s dioceses, ideas that violate the universal faith would be presented as authentic Church teaching, and faithful German Catholics would face repression.

The details of a dirty schism were recently sketched out by New Beginning, a lay movement of German Catholics opposed to the Synodal Way’s heterodoxical trajectory. The group held a briefing with American Catholic journalists earlier this week, describing the possible outcomes of the synodal process as it nears its final synodal assembly, March 9-11.

New Beginning described a dirty schism as “the worst possible” outcome, for both the particular Church in Germany and the Church universal.

“In fact, there would be two Magisteria: the Roman Catholic one, which is forced into a niche existence in Germany, and the very present ‘differently Catholic’ Magisterium of the Synodal Way, which is pushed by secular and church media,” said New Beginning in the briefing, referring to a quote from Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops conference, on the goals of the synodal process.

The group added that a dirty schism would create the conditions in which faithful German Catholics feel they have “to leave the [c]hurch,” meaning the publicly-recognized ecclesial body, “to stay in the Church.”

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A ‘Dirty Schism’ in Germany? As Synodal Way Nears Conclusion, Lay Group Warns of ‘Worst Possible’ Outcome| National Catholic Register

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