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ERFURT, Germany (ChurchMilitant.com) - One-third of Germans want to create a new, ostensibly Christian Church by merging the Catholic Church with Protestant denominations, according to a recent poll.
INSA-Consulere, a company that does political research in Germany, this week published a poll that revealed 31% of Germans wish to unite Protestant denominations with the Catholic Church to form a single church.
Self-identifying Catholics were more likely to support the merger than Protestants and Evangelicals, with Catholics at 42%, Protestants at 27% and Evangelicals at 15%.
Older people were also more likely to favor the unification, with people over 60 at 40% compared to people 18–29 at 23%.
In a letter sent in September to the head of the German Bishops' Conference, Bp. Georg Bätzing of the Limburg diocese, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) rejected proposals to alter Catholic teaching in a spirit of ecumenism seeking union.
The CDF was denouncing various ideas put forward in an ecumenical document titled "Together at the Lord's Table," which attempts to interpret the Holy Eucharist as a metaphor.
The CDF rejected this erroneous notion of the Eucharist, as well as other errors in the document. Another error rejected was suggesting the Church's understanding of Holy Orders is based on a misunderstanding in the early days of the Church. The CDF also warned not to downplay doctrinal differences between the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations.
In response to the letter, Bätzing has dug in his heels, standing behind "Together at the Lord's Table." He asserts some of the CDF's criticisms are appropriate, but others are not.
While the Vatican rejects merging the Catholic Church with Protestant denominations, Pope Francis supports the so-called "synodal way" or "synodal path," according to Bp. Bätzing.
Launched on the first Sunday of Advent in 2019, the "synodal way" (German: Der Synodale Weg) is a two-year project to re-evaluate Church teaching on topics like sexual morality and the ordination of women.
"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," commented Bätzing after a meeting in June with Francis. "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."
Propositions for discussion have included possible redefining of concepts such as "fertility" and "marriage."
"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 one proposal from a document drafted in September. "Same-sex couples and other couples who cannot conceive a new life also have the potential for a fruitful life."
"We want to support everyone in living their sexuality conscientiously, responsibly and self-determinedly before God," reads another proposal from the September document. "It is the task of the church to accompany believers in their formation of conscience and in questions of lifestyle ... ."
Another proposal seeks to redefine "marriage" as "the preferred, but not only [way] to live love and sexuality in [a] relationship." The suggestion leads to another, which proposes the Church "appreciate different sexual orientations and gender identities."
Elected in March as president of the German Bishops' Conference, Bätzing seeks a more modern style for the conference. Leading up to the "synodal way," he signed off in 2019 on a working document that called for Church approval for a host of what the Church teaches are sins against chastity.
"Homosexual acts also realize positive meaningful values, insofar as they are an expression of friendship, reliability, loyalty and support in life," reads a portion of the working document.
"Not every sexual act must remain open to procreation: The principle of responsible parenthood is extended to include the element of family planning through the free choice of a means of contraception appropriate to the respective life situation," reads another portion.