The pontiff was reacting to reforms proposed by a faction in the country, suggesting that priests should be allowed to marry
Pope Francis has criticized reforms suggested by a progressive German Catholic movement, which would include allowing women to become deacons and allowing same-sex relationships in an effort to address dwindling numbers.
“I say to German Catholics: Germany has a great and beautiful evangelical church; I don’t want another one that won’t be as good as this one.” Francis told a German reporter during his trip to Bahrain on Sunday. He was answering a question about declining church membership.
The German Catholic Church risks falling into “ethical discussions…about contingent things” which have nothing to do with “heart of theology” but would still “theological consequences”, he warned.
The pope then urged the Germans to draw inspiration from the “the simple religiosity found in grandparents.” He maintained that he did not suggest going “backward” but rather go “to the roots” adding that otherwise religion might turn into “ethics disguised as Christianity”.
In June, German media reported that “hundreds of thousands” Germans had officially resigned their membership in the Catholic and Protestant churches. Over the past 15 years, the number of people belonging to either of the two churches has reportedly fallen from 61% of the population to less than 50%.
At the end of 2019, the German Catholic Church launched a series of conferences called the Synodal Path aimed at discussing theological and organizational issues. In February 2022, these conferences endorsed a list of proposals addressed to the Vatican in particular. The list included granting women the right to become priests, allowing priests to marry, blessing same-sex relationships, and revising Catholic Church teachings on sexual ethics.
The head of the German Catholic Church, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, called the rule of celibacy “precarious,” arguing that the right to marry would be “better for [Catholic priests’] lives and they wouldn’t be so alone.
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