The 2018 Ratzinger Prize winner Marianne Schlosser has previously raised concerns, identifying a “fixation on ordination” of women at the process.
A professor of theology at the University of Vienna, Pope Francis appointed Schlosser as a member of the International Theological Commission in 2014. She was also appointed a member of the study commission investigating the female diaconate in 2016.
In an interview with CNA Deutsch last year, Schlosser pointed to several problems with the process, in particular, demands for the ordination of women to the priesthood.
She warned that the sacrament of holy orders could not just be conflated with hierarchical positions of power.
Vatican concerns ‘not forwarded’
In their Wednesday “departure note,” Westerhorstmann, Gerl-Falkovitz, Schmidt, and Schlosser also said the Vatican’s concern about introducing a permanent synodal council in Germany “has not been forwarded to the members of the synodal assembly nor otherwise brought directly to their attention.”
Pope Francis and other Church leaders have expressed serious concerns about the idea. Such a body would function “as a consultative and decision-making body on essential developments in the Church and society,” according to a Synodal Way proposal.
More importantly, it would “make fundamental decisions of supra-diocesan significance on pastoral planning, questions of the future, and budgetary matters of the Church that are not decided at the diocesan level.”
Last month, in response to warnings from Rome about taking such a step, the president of the German bishops’ conference suggested he would pursue a “fallback option.”
In their statement, the four signatories on Wednesday said they saw “the need for a profound renewal of the Church, which also has structural relevance.”
“At the same time, we are convinced that there is a renewal worthy of the name only in the preservation of the ecclesial communion across space and time — and not by rupturing from it.”
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So far, no bishops have opted out of the controversial process. In 2020, Auxiliary Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp of Cologne renounced his participation in the synodal forum on sexual morality.