Vatican puts brakes on German church reform proposals

ROME (AP) — The Vatican put the brakes on the German Catholic Church’s reform path Thursday, warning against any effort to impose new moral or doctrinal norms on the faithful on such hot-button issues as homosexuality, married priests and women’s roles in the church.

The Holy See issued a statement warning that any attempts at imposing new doctrines “would represent a wound to the ecclesial union and a threat to the unity of the church.”

The statement marked the second time the Holy See has weighed in publicly to rein in progressives in Germany who initiated a reform process with lay Catholics as a response to the clergy sexual abuse scandals.

Francis wrote a letter to the German church in 2019, offering support for the process, but warning church leaders against falling into the temptation of change for the sake of adaptation to particular groups or ideas.

The “Synodal Path” has sparked fierce resistance inside Germany and beyond, primarily from conservatives opposed to opening any debate on issues such as priestly celibacy, women’s role in the church and homosexuality.

Preliminary assemblies have already approved calls to allow blessings for same-sex couples, married priests and the ordination of women as deacons. One has also called for church labor law to be revised so that gay employees don’t face the risk of being fired.

Dozens of bishops from around the world warned earlier this year that the proposed German reforms, if ultimately approved at the final stage, could lead to schism. The next assembly of the “Synodal Path” is scheduled for Sept. 8-10.

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