President of the German Bishops “Disappointed” in the Pope

June 10, 2022
Bishop Georg Bätzing

Bishop Georg Bätzing is disappointed and he intends to let it be known. For this, the Bishop of Limburg – who also presides over the destinies of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) – delivered a seemingly endless twenty-six-page interview to Deutschlandfunk on May 22, 2022.

The prelate begins by giving some good points on progressivism to the Roman pontiff: Francis – according to him – notably was doing “what he could” by initiating the synodal process, thus allowing “all groups, including LGBT groups, to participate in the 2023 World Synod.”

But very quickly, criticism peaks when the president of the DBK evokes the great obsessions of the German episcopate: recalling that at the Amazon Synod, the Argentine pontiff refused to address the question of ordaining married men, the viri probati, the prelate warns that “the discussion of this issue has not, however,  ceased and it will not cease just because the pope didn’t take it up.”

Likewise, “neither will there be less discussion of women’s ordination just because the pope is of a different opinion. I’ve spoken to Pope Francis several times now and I know he has a decidedly different opinion [on these issues],” Bishop Bätzing said.

And to shoot an arrow in the direction of the St. Martha’s House, judging that the pope has adopted a “certain circular discussion culture.” A friendliness that remains very little tasted, in Rome.

The president of the DBK likes in any case to play the balancing act, affirming with a certain confidence: “I’m proclaiming Church teaching—which is my duty—but at the same time I’m fully aware that this teaching is no longer accepted by the faithful.…That is something we must take up theologically and it will lead to changes.”

In other words, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, immutable in its truth, must evolve under the pressure of novelties and errors. It is a complete reversal of the very notion of revelation and tradition: it is the faithful who, henceforth, are the norm of divine teaching.

In any case, it is difficult to claim that he is “proclaiming Church teaching,” when he has stated, in a few previous lines, that he is “’firmly convinced’ that present Church teaching on homosexuality must be changed.” Decidedly, the “and at the same time” statement of the French head of state has been emulated across the Rhine.

Let it be said, the Bishop of Limburg considers that the reformist phase of the pontificate has fizzled out: “those who only have their eyes on the priestly celibacy issue or on the question of women’s ordination are certainly in for a disappointment,” he believes.

And to let go that “neither of these issues will be resolved within the next five years.”