The Synodal Path of the German Church


The revolution led by the German church believes that a reformed priesthood, open to male and female, single and married people, would free the Church from the evil of clericalism, so frequently condemned by Pope Francis. It would be a short step to turn the priestly service into a temporary office rather than a vocation for life.

I am reminded of a telling comment once made by Fr Karl Rahner about his erstwhile colleague and friend Fr Hans Küng, much admired in Germany today but whose flirtations with heterodoxy pretty much left him adrift in the end. Fr Rahner stated that he could so much more easily read and understand Küng, were he a Protestant. It was only when he sought to present himself as a Catholic that his writings became unintelligible. Could it be that Bishop Bätzing and company are only coherent to the extent that you view them as non-Catholics—straightforward secularists, in fact—effectively disconnected from the Church whose teachings they no longer hold? 

Original sin? What’s that, so many people might ask in this culture of ignorance. For too many, sin is a bad word to be avoided in a “woke” society, and original just doesn’t make sense to modern people. Yet, as Cardinal JH Newman pointed out, if the doctrine of original sin were abolished tomorrow, we would have to re-invent it. 

The recognition that every human being is flawed from birth shows a realist understanding of human nature, and this is supported, if not by our own experience of the present, then by the revelations of the past. Think of the national leaders of Ireland and England like Eamon de Valera and Winston Churchill. Historians unearth happenings in their lives that do not reflect well on their claims and decisions, and we should not be surprised since we all belong to the race of Adam and Eve.

When we look back to the 18th century and earlier, life was often brutal and short for most of the population. Rudimentary medicine did little to protect against cholera, typhoid and other fatal diseases that were chronic. Kings and an elite of nobles ruled, harsh punishments were handed out to those who broke the laws, and the buying and selling of human beings flourished in the Americas. The reputed evils of these centuries have eclipsed the achievements made by the leaders of that time. 

Over the past 20 years and longer, a movement of self-hatred has become dominant in western countries, condemning the “white man” as the source of all evil in the world. Europeans took control of foreign lands and their peoples by force of arms, “colonized” them brutally and became wealthy on the backs of the coloured races. This judgment of the past is widespread in North and South America, and has spread to Europe in manifestations like Black Lives Matter, and the defacement of monuments to prominent men who founded colleges and dispensed their wealth.

In November this year, the Welcome Trust decided to shut down the Welcome Collection, a well-known, free medical museum in London, because the history it told is “racist, sexist and ableist”. According to its statement, the exhibition, far from displaying the history of healing in the past, showed how “disabled people, black people, indigenous peoples and people of colour were exoticised, marginalised and exploited” and had been “silenced, erased and ignored”.

The Welcome Trust was established in London by Sir Henry Welcome, an incredibly successful American businessman, who set up a pharmaceutical company, which massed-produced insulin and vaccines against deadly infections. His company became part of the GlaxoSmithKline conglomerate operating today. 

Today, the Welcome Trust finances half of medical research in the UK and in many other countries across the world. Yet, the Collection’s director denounced its founder as a “wealthy white man”, benefitting from his “white privilege” and “white supremacy”, even though she and many others enjoy generous salaries, thanks to Sir Henry’s philanthropy and wealth.

The problem with these views is that they are seriously unbalanced, ignore much of history, and damage the health of society. Yes, no one denies that racism existed in past centuries, and the colonial powers were guilty of crimes. At the same time, the indigenous peoples were no saints, and waged war on their neighbours and enslaved them for profit. The western colonists brought law and order, set up schools and replaced the often barbaric practises by Christianity. 

Clearly, these self-righteous critics of the past don’t believe in original sin. 

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