Church says there are open debates on women priests and homosexuality
On Saturday, November 19, a prominent German Catholic bishop disagreed with the Vatican’s stance that the disputes on women priests and homosexuality had been resolved, stating that they will be revisited in the future.
Bishop Georg Baetzing addressed at a news conference following a week of discussions between Pope Francis and Vatican authorities and all of Germany’s bishops.
They concentrated on a contentious German progressive movement known as the “Synodal Path,” which seeks to give lay Catholics a voice in certain doctrinal questions and the nomination of bishops.
The movement has frightened conservative and moderate Catholics around the world, who fear that it could lead to a catastrophic schism akin to what occurred in the Anglican and Protestant churches following the implementation of comparable reforms in the past few decades.
“As far as women’s ordination is concerned, for instance, (the Vatican’s) position is quite clear: the matter is closed. However, the topic exists and must be developed upon and debated,” stated Baetzing, the bishop of Limburg and head of the German Bishops Conference.
The Catholic Church argues that women cannot be priests because Jesus chose only men to be apostles and that, while same-sex attraction is not a sin, homosexual behaviors are.
Some Church progressives desire that the Catholic catechism be revised so that it no longer condemns gay behavior in committed relationships and that a path to women’s ordination be opened.
Baetzing stated, “Any these questions are on the table (of the German Synodal Path), and all attempts to cancel them will fail.”
“Popes have attempted to assert that the issue (of women priests) is resolved, but the reality is that the issue still exists. Many young women believe that a church that rejects all of these things cannot be their church in the long term,” he remarked.
The Vatican’s ministry of doctrine declared in 2021 that priests cannot bless same-sex unions. In September, bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Flanders released a letter permitting the practice.
Baetzing stated, when asked if he would prohibit priests in his diocese from blessing same-sex unions, “I would not deny God’s blessing to people in committed partnerships who seek it.”
In July, the Vatican attempted to halt the German movement, citing the potential of a schism among the universal Church.
Baetzing stated that he did not perceive such a threat: “It (schism) is not an option for any German bishop or layperson. We are Catholics and will continue to be Catholics, but we wish to be Catholics in a new manner.”