Six German Bishops Condemn Controversial Working Document

by Christine Niles  •  •  May 19, 2015   

Six German bishops are publicly criticizing a controversial working document recently issued by the German Bishops' Conference

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PASSAU, Germany, May 19, 2015 ( – Six German bishops are publicly criticizing a controversial working document recently issued by the German Bishops' Conference.

The working document, issued in preparation for this year's Synod on the Family, pushes a revolutionary agenda that includes greater openness to gay unions while downplaying the necessity of sacramental marriage. It calls for more favorable views towards irregular unions, including cohabitation and adultery, and also hints at changing Church teaching with regard to homosexuality.

The document was followed by a supportive statement from the Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (ZdK), the Central Committee of German Catholics, a lay organization backed by the German bishops. The group echoed the working document by calling for reform in four areas:

  • Allowing the divorced and civilly remarried admittance to Holy Communion, contrary to the longstanding discipline of the Church
  • Recognizing positive elements in non-sacramental unions, including cohabitation, adulterous second marriages, and gay unions
  • Acknowledging the legitimacy of non-traditional families, including same-sex couples
  • Re-evaluating the Church's teaching on contraception

In response, Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau wrote a Facebook post condemning the ZdK statement, calling the German Bishops' working document “incomprehensible” and marking a “dramatic change” in Church teaching regarding marriage and sexuality.

Five German bishops have come out in support of Oster, publishing an open letter of support this past Saturday thanking him for his clarity. “We are therefore convinced that many believers are also most grateful for your clear words.”

They wrote of the necessity of “a frank and faithful proclamation of Jesus' teaching in the Gospels and the development of a relationship with Him as a richness for our lives.”

The five bishops who signed the letter include Bishops Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, Gregory Hanke of Eichstätt, Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz, Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, and Friedhelm Hofmann of Würzburg.

There are 27 dioceses total in Germany.


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