BERLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - German bishops are putting up for a vote Catholic teachings on human sexuality and ordinary language as they continue full steam ahead with the so-called Synodal Way.
The German bishops are scheduled to vote Friday on a four-page working document containing 11 proposals, some of which seek to redefine ordinary words to work around biological facts and authentic Church teaching to "support everyone in living their sexuality."
"Fertility is more than the ability to create new life, which is only possible in the sexual communion of a man and a woman," reads the third proposal up for vote. "Same-sex couples and other couples who cannot conceive a new life also have the potential for a fruitful life."
This third proposal adds an "alternative" phrasing: "Since couples have children, their biological fertility automatically also has a social dimension. Understood in this sense, couples without children can also become fertile in a social sense."
The fourth proposal speaks of strengthening "aspects of Catholic sexual teaching," without mentioning any specific Catholic moral teachings on human sexuality. The proposal claims Church teaching on sexual matters represents "important orienting values" such as "permanence, loyalty, exclusivity and consensus between responsible persons" and "sexual experiences based on partnership [that] are always embedded in a loving relationship."
"We want to support everyone in living their sexuality conscientiously, responsibly and self-determinedly before God," states the fifth proposal. "It is the task of the church to accompany believers in their formation of conscience and in questions of lifestyle ... ."
The eighth proposal suggests seeing marriage "as the preferred, but not only" way "to live love and sexuality in [a] relationship," setting the stage for the ninth proposal to "appreciate different sexual orientations and gender identities," along with "permanent" relationships such people form.
In fact, Catholic teaching on sexuality forbids sexual activity of all kinds outside of marriage between one man and one woman, emphasizing chastity as a virtue which, when practiced, increases human happiness through self-mastery and increased freedom to obey God. It also forbids rejecting one's birth-assigned gender because of its personal and social impact:
Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.
The "Synodal Way" or "Synodal Path" is a two-year project in Germany to reconsider Church teaching on a host of topics such as an all-male priesthood and sexual morality. The project was launched on the first Sunday of Advent, 2019.
The head of the German Bishops' Conference claims Pope Francis is pleased with the Synodal Way. After meeting with the pontiff June 27, Bp. Georg Bätzing, the chairman, said, "I feel encouraged by the intensive exchange with the Holy Father to continue on the path I have chosen. The pope appreciates this project, which he connects closely with the term 'synodality' that he coined."
He reported that the pope was happy to receive up-to-date details and the bishops' plans for the future.
"It was important to me to make it clear that the Church in Germany is going this way and that it is always bound to the Universal Church," he added.
There are several German prelates who are warning against the dangers of the Synodal Way.
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said in February that "the Synodal Path had installed a form of Protestant church parliament, and delegates who were skeptical of the reform process had found it comparatively difficult to have their say."
"My impression is that much of what belongs to theological doctrine is no longer shared here with us, and instead, one believes that one can shape the Church in a completely new and different way," he added.
"Without any consideration for the genuine sources of faith and revelation — namely, Scripture and Tradition — the Church is supposed to reinvent itself, so to speak," said former apostolic nuncio to Germany, Abp. Erwin Josef Ender, in June.