VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The president of the German Bishops' Conference is claiming that Pope Francis is pleased with the German bishops' radical "synodal way."
After meeting with the pontiff on June 27, Bp. Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German bishops' conference, 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."
Bätzing said Francis' expression of appreciation came after he gave the pope a detailed update on the progress of the synodal way and the bishops' future planning.
"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 said after the audience.
The synodal way is a two-year program ostensibly designed to "reform" the church in Germany. However, faithful Catholics are warning that it is serving as a platform for radical theological dissent.
The synodal way's agenda includes many ideas at odds with Catholic teaching, such as normalizing homosexuality, foregoing priestly celibacy, admitting non-Catholics to Holy Communion and ordaining women.
Increasing the role of women in the Church, including lobbying for their ordination, is a major theme at the German synod.
Pope St. John Paul II declared in 1994 that the Church had "no authority whatsoever" to ordain women as priests.
The synodal way is the intellectual offspring of Cdl. Reinhard Marx, Bätzing's predecessor, who stepped down earlier this year as head of the German Bishops' Conference.
Marx has been a leading advocate of intercommunion and allowing Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion, a move his opponents call an "ecclesiological revolution."
Bätzing also said, "We have to find answers to urgent challenges facing the Church," such as, "dealing with sexual abuse of minors [and] dramatic Church-leaving."
Church Militant recently reported on the lingering pervasiveness of sexual abuse of minors in Germany, both in society at large and in the Church.
And statistical data issued June 26 about the Catholic Church in Germany showed that almost 280,000 people left the Catholic Church last year, a significant increase over 2018.
But many Catholic prelates across the world are seeing the synodal way — and its agenda of creating the Church in a new image and likeness — as the point of urgency.
Cologne cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki said after the first synodal assembly last February, "All my fears were confirmed, actually," referring to the radical ideas being proposed at the synod.
According to the German Catholic News Agency (KNA), Woelki said: "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 said in the interview.
Woelki maintained that many arguments presented were not compatible with "the faith and teaching of the Universal Church."
Speaking out against the synod's agenda in June, he said, "The Catholic Church must remain Catholic."
Similarly, late last month, Cologne auxiliary bishop Dominik Schwaderlapp pulled out of the synodal way's forum on sexuality, owing to its rejection of Catholic teaching.