Where Peter Is received some criticism last week in the wake of breaking news regarding the wrangling in the Vatican that took place over the proposed ‘synodal way’ of the Church in Germany. Some asked why we weren’t issuing breathless condemnations over this allegedly real schism in the Church. I don’t know if our accusers realize that Where Peter Is is not a news agency. It publishes work by normal folks who research and write in their spare time and get most of their information from English-language sources. I don’t think any of us are comfortable issuing on-demand condemnations based on partial information with little context. Many of us watched the development of what is now happening in the Church in the United States for years before publicly speaking out about it. We would be irresponsible if we did not adequately research the ‘synodal way’ before drawing conclusions.

Despite my irritation at being goaded to comment on the German situation, however, I have been doing some reading. I can read some German, even if Church-related news articles, Bishops’ Conference press-releases and Vatican correspondence all present significant challenges. My research so far has confirmed that we are dealing with very different situations in the US and Germany, and it is not clear that the German ‘synodal way’ will end up resulting in schism, although of course it is a possibility. Also, we cannot say that the Church in Germany has placed itself in stark opposition to the Holy Father, since an emphasis on synodality is something that Pope Francis has encouraged and fostered (see, for example, his important 2015 address at the Ceremony Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops). His letter to the Church in Germany was not an authoritarian demand that they immediately stop what they are doing; rather, it was a fatherly intervention that contained both encouragement and some stern warnings. If, after negotiations, they choose not to heed these warnings and Cardinal Marx severs his close relationship with Pope Francis, then we will have a serious situation.

The rebellions in the US and Germany are different beasts. Still, in researching the ‘synodal way,’ I have discovered that there are some important similarities as well—ones that can help us understand this turbulent period. These similarities revolve around the role of the laity in the Church.

Many Catholic conservatives are quick to portray the Church in Germany as a hive of Modernist heresy, led by bishops who wish to Protestantize or secularize the Church through the ordination of women, the elimination of clerical celibacy, and support for gay marriage. This is surely a caricature, but it is nevertheless fair to say that the Church in Germany tends toward the ‘progressive’ end of the Catholic spectrum. However, what they miss is that much of this progressive tendency is coming from the laity, who are not only highly organized, well-financed, and well-represented by the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), but also desperately frustrated with and angry at the Church. The ‘synodal way’ was conceived as a response to what many German Catholics consider a situation of emergency in the wake of the abuse crisis. For decades they have been asking for change that did not come; they were instead granted a legacy of clerical sexual and physical abuse that will leave scars for many generations. Now, they are no longer willing to settle for ‘business as usual.’ They will not be satisfied with a ‘synodal way’ that is manipulated by Church leadership and takes all of the most crucial items for discussion off the table. Although it does not seem that the ‘binding’ resolutions they have called for as a result of the ‘synodal way’ will actually be binding on bishops or involve matters of doctrine that are reserved for the universal Church, they want tangible results.

Australia is also gearing up for a similar (though more ecclesiastically sound) process, as the National Catholic Reporter detailed earlier this year, with preparations for their 2020 Plenary Council, “in which laypeople will be allowed to vote and decisions could be binding on the nation’s Catholics, once ratified by the Vatican.” It, too, is the product of a reckoning with the abuse crisis, namely the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. NCR quotes Jack de Groot, who is involved in the review and implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations, as saying “The plenary council of the church, it’s only going to have credibility if laypeople get to vote on its recommendation—and that they have at least half the vote […].” Even if we may have misgivings about such demands for active and meaningful participation from the laity, they can’t be ignored.

We should look at what is happening in North America in the context of this larger push for decentralization and lay participation in decision-making within the Church. I spend a lot of time arguing against the various manifestations of anti-Francis sentiment that appear daily in social media and American Catholic media—and some of it is truly outrageous—but I also recognize that much of it is rooted in anger and despair. The decades-long abuse crisis in the US has taken its toll, and now a large number of dissatisfied Catholics are using social media and the vast Catholic media networks that were built up over the course of the long JPII/BXVI era as their forum for protest. They are also demanding, in ways that would have been almost unthinkable before, that no items of discussion are “off the table.” As a result, we are seeing an influx of ideas that were formerly confined to the traditionalist fringes of American Catholicism into formerly ‘mainstream’ sources. Such ideas include the wholesale rejection of Vatican II, theories of Freemasonic infiltration of the Church, Integralism, Marian apocalypticism, the public rejection or dismissal of encyclicals and exhortations, calls for a return to older catechisms or older versions of the Catechism, and more. Catholic media figures have made it clear that they will stand for what they believe the Church has always taught, even if that means criticizing the pope. The lesson to be learned is that the old ways are through—the laity will have their say, or even promulgate their own teaching, no matter what the pope and bishops might think. If it doesn’t happen through a synod or plenary council, it will happen through other means.

Contrary to what people might think, I do not think the solution to this instability is a form of ultramontanism which would demand uniform submission to every utterance of Pope Francis. Or perhaps I am such an ultramontanist that I think we need to carefully consider the will of the pope and the themes of his pontificate. Pope Francis has not quashed all disagreement or even dissent. He remains open to criticism and frank discussion, and has encouraged synodality as a way of making the Church truly global and less centralized and conformist. He is a father, not a dictator. We must choose to obey; he can’t force us. As he said on September 10, “In the Church there is always the option for schism, always. But it is an option that the Lord leaves to human freedom.”

As we begin this new era for the Church, we should listen to the Holy Father as he listens to us. I pray that he will be able to shoulder the responsibility he has been given. The whole pilgrim Church on earth is entering the synodal way, whether we like it or not.

Image: Maria 2.0 Demonstration at Freiburger Münster Cathedral (cropped), by Andreas Schwarzkopf. Creative Commons license

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D.W. Lafferty, PhD, is a Catholic husband, dad, and independent scholar from Ontario, Canada. He works in higher education and has published articles on the literature of Wyndham Lewis, the conspiracy theory of Douglas Reed, and the life and legacy of Engelbert Dollfuss. Online, he tweets as @rightscholar.

The Synodal Way of the Pilgrim Church

29 Responses

  1. Cfaucheux says:

    Sorry, but I don’t know if you can say the rebellion in Germany is all from the laity, and all based on anger over abuse. That exacerbates it certainly, but these ideas have been promoted by the German clergy and seminaries for a long time now. When I lived there ten years ago, Hans Küng was still a rock star among the clergy, one of the less progressive priests in my area essentially denied the existence of Purgatory in a homily, and another one somehow added “as we pray with the other religions of the world” into the Eucharistic prayers. This is not limited to the wholesale rejection of everything relating to sexual morality, but also matters that directly touch on the content of the faith. Among people who actually went to church, I heard that the Virgin Birth was a myth made up by medieval clergy to teach the lesson that sex was bad, and also that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were totally hooking up, since Jesus wouldn’t deny his human nature. Also that the issue of abuse would clear up “when there’s a woman in charge”. These are not things that the laity came up with on their own — these ideas have been encouraged and promoted by the clergy for a while.

    The US has its own set of problems to be sure, but with regard to Germany, I have no idea how allowing these issues into “the discussion” can result in anything other than disaster. Either they debate them, and the bishops reject the laity’s proposals, infuriating them even more, or they accept them, and the German Bishops conference formally goes into rebellion.

    I’ve got no questions about Francis’ orthodoxy. But Marx and company? I’ve seen no evidence that they care about anything more than avoiding incurring the wrath of the laity and losing their Kirchensteuer-funded lifestyles.

  2. carn says:

    I think you are close but still off with that:

    “Many Catholic conservatives are quick to portray the Church in Germany as a hive of Modernist heresy, led by bishops who wish to Protestantize or secularize the Church through the ordination of women, the elimination of clerical celibacy, and support for gay marriage.”

    Lets change that into a 100% true statement:

    Many Catholic conservative CORRECTLY portray the Church in Germany AS BEING INFLUENCED by a hive of Modernist heresy, A HIVE led by ZDK who wish to Protestantize or secularize the Church through the ordination of women, the elimination of clerical celibacy, and IMPLICIT support for gay marriage.

    Evidence that this is 100% true:


    “Mit großer Mehrheit verabschiedete die Vollversammlung eine Erklärung, die sich dafür ausspricht, Frauen den Zugang zu allen kirchlichen Ämtern zu gewähren, die verpflichtende Ehelosigkeit für Priester abzuschaffen und die kirchliche Sexualmoral grundlegend zu überarbeiten.”


    “With a great majority the general assembly [of ZdK] voted for a declaration, which calls for opening ALL Church ministries/positions to women, for dropping the requirement of celibacy for priests and for fundamentally revising Church teaching about sexuality.”

    That fulfills at least “ordination of women” and “elimination of clerical celibacy”.


    “die vorbehaltlose Akzeptanz gleichgeschlechtlicher Partnerschaften; … die Frage nach rituellen Anerkennungsmöglichkeiten im Raum der Kirche für solche Paare, die ihre Partnerschaft im Horizont der Liebe Gottes gestalten wollen (Segenswunsch). Im Nachgang zur Vollversammlung hat der Hauptausschuss des ZdK besonders den letzten Punkt als dringliches Anliegen unterstrichen.”

    “the unconditional acceptance of homosexual partnerships; … the question of possibilities for ritual acceptance within the Church for such couples. who want to shape their partnership within the love of God (wish for blessing). In the aftermath of the general assembly the main committee of the ZdK especially emphasized the last point as an urgent matter.”

    “unconditional acceptance of homosexual partnerships” is given that in Germany such partnerships will often be civil same-sex marriage is implicit support for gay marriage, cause it excludes the possibility of not accepting the civil marriage as legitimate.

    For proving my statement the only thing left to show is that the Church in Germany is being influences by the ZdK.


    “Die erweiterte Gemeinsame Konferenz von Vertretern der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz und des Zentralkomitees der deutschen Katholiken am 13. und 14. September 2019 in Fulda behandelt verschiedene Fragen, die den Synodalen Weg betreffen.”

    “The enlarged joint conference of representatives of the German bishop conference and the [ZdK] on 13th and 14th September 2019 in Fulda discusses various questions, which relate to the Synodal Way.”

    Meeting with Bishops how to proceed on the Synodal Way is influencing the Church in Germany.

    Case closed.

    What i stated is true.


    Would you mind once to not only disparagingly describe what some “conservatives” erroneously claim by exaggerating some issue but also truthfully describe the underlying issue, which some “conservatives” exaggerate?

    You always strive hard to make them look like idiotic fools believing in conspiracy; many are; but many others are either on target or at least so close, that in fairness you should note correctly the underlying FACTS. Which here are that the ZdK is a hive of heresy and influences the Church in Germany.

    With what effects one will have to see.

  3. Jude says:

    So let’s assess the situation, We now live in a world where a bishop who says that pantheism is not Catholic is ‘potentially’ schismatic (cause we at WPI all know he is right?) and a bishop who favors gay marriage et al. is the pope’s favorite theologian. ie not schismatic in the least because he shows outward affection for him…. ok, maybe things have gone a little off lately…

  4. chris dorf says:

    Don’t know if you think this is any way relevant, but I wandered upon this recently as I have been inundated with the conspiracy attacks on Pope Francis…take it for what you will:

    “Responding to the confusion of a Catholic Priest over the cure of an Orthodox child:

    “Tell this priest, tell everyone, that it is you who are divided on earth. The Muslims and the Orthodox, for the same reason as Catholics, are equal before my Son and me.

    You are all my children. Certainly, all religions are not equal, but all men are equal before God, as St. Paul says. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved, but it is necessary to respect the commandments of God in following one’s conscience.

    “Those who are not Catholics, are no less creatures made in the image of God, and destined to rejoin someday, the House of the Father. Salvation is available to everyone, without exception.

    Only those who refuse God deliberately are condemned. To him who has been given little, little will be asked for. To whomever has been given much (to Catholics), very much will be required.

    It is God alone, in His infinite justice, Who determines the degree of responsibility and pronounces judgment.”

    1984–1985; Before God, man is equal. However, religions are not equal. Most religions contain some truth. Those truths are common ground among those religions. But some religions have more truth than others. They are not equal. Our Lady of Medjugorje explained this.

    • George Palantine says:

      I am afraid that you will soon be finding out that Medjugorje is a fraud, of enormous proportions. As much as I love the truth about Mary, I am not unhappy to see fakers exposed. It is true that the Medjugorje pilgrimages have been spiritually fruitful for a great many. Any pilgrimage would be. But no, I doubt Mary appears every day precisely on demand to give real messages. As if she could not possibly say something in a short period of time, rather than dragging it out over thirty years.

  5. Ralph says:

    The problem with opening matters up to the laity is that it will open the floodgates to ideological warfare between different factions of the Church and create an opening for wealthy laypeople to try to dominate the Church. Also, rest assured that the most ideological Catholics on both the left and the right will be the ones to participate in any new roles for laypeople. Just like in politics, ordinary “moderate” people are not as energized as ideologues so they often do not participate or are shouted down and out-hustled by rabid ideologues. Just think about the nastiness and vitriol of online Catholic spaces compared with Catholic life in the real world. Do we really want the nastiness of the Internet seeping into parishes and other Catholic spaces offline?

    In politics, reforms intended to increase participation have had the perverse result of making politics more ideological and more polarized than it would otherwise have been because most people do not want to participate in politics so political spaces get taken over by more extreme voices. There is a growing literature on this problem within the political science community and I think it also likely applies to church bodies as well. Look at what has happened with many of the Protestant denominations splitting over ideological conflict.

    As far as the abuse crisis is concerned, I have issues with members of the laity using the crisis as a way to try to implement their ideological schemes. I have had heated arguments with conservative Catholics who blame everything on gay priests and Vatican II and with liberal Catholics who blame the crisis on clerical celibacy and the all-male priesthood. The truth is that the Catholic Church, like other institutions, failed to take sex abuse seriously. This is not just a Catholic problem, as it has occurred in other religious denominations, schools, sports teams, scouting organizations and even families.

    As bad as clericalism is I don’t agree with the recent trend of treating laypeople as automatically superior to members of the clergy as there have been numerous sex abuse scandals in secular institutions. I have no problem with including lay experts in law, psychology or other relevant fields when handling the important issue of abuse but I am wary of ideologues using the abuse crisis as a convenient vehicle for their own schemes to change the Church in their own image.

    I am sorry for the rant but I am very wary about calls for opening up the Church to the laity and for more “democratic” governance. If anything we might need more ultramontanism, not less but that is just my personal opinion. I sometimes think that Pope Francis has perhaps been too easy on dissenters but I think he is trying to maintain unity at this difficult time, acting as a shepherd of an unruly flock.

    • George Palantine says:

      You are dead on. The apparent willlingness of the German Bishops to “revolt” in the name of their local church is simply protestantism. They are protestants. So are many on the right side of things that want to scream about Vatican II, etc. They are also protestants. Pope Francis threatens to unleash a new round of the Reformation, in which national churches are only loosely confederated with a weakened central papacy.

      However, I do disagree with you as to homosexuality in the priesthood, and the abuse crisis. I don’t think anyone can deny that crisis is primarily due to homosexuality in the priesthood. A lot flows from that problem, and it is clear that non homosexual priests are marginalized and even threatened in some instances. It’s a problem and we should learn how to deal with if fairly and justly.

  6. jong says:

    Synod if composed of Bishops united as one in hearts & mind with the Vicar of Christ will bring good fruits in the Church. But, if the Synod is composed of Bishops expressing schism with the Pope Magisterium then it will lead to disunity as it is rooted in pride & disobedience.
    The wisdom behind the Synod is to strengthen every diocese and archdiocese and if the Bishops were pious and docile to the voice of the Holy Spirit then it can withstand the assault of the forces of darkness sowing confusions and divisions.
    Pope Francis is constantly reminding Bishops how to defend their territory as Satan the Great Accuser and his demons are now unchain, they must be close to the people and renounce clericalism and become a true pastor.
    All of us must heed the call of Pope Francis to conversion to receive the gift of wisdom & discernment to identify who are the bishops allies to the Dubia Cardinals, et al who are promoting schism openly and willfully.
    We must not be deceive by the false prophets or the wolves in sheep clothing who are preaching the “anti-gospel” as St.JP2 clearly warned us.
    The Dubia Cardinals et, al are preaching the anti-gospel and are leading the confused catholic to embrace their rebellion in disguised of Prayer Crusade accusing the Magisterium of numerous lies & deception.
    The Dubia Cardinals, et al open schism, rebellion and apostasy of the gospel denying the Mercy of God on lost and wounded souls is the clear description of Thessalonian prophecy.
    We are now seeng a mystical body of believers who only accepts chosen Traditions & Doctrines but openly and willfully denying the Truth of the Gospel.
    What is the Truth of the Gospel?
    Jesus is Divine Mercy made flesh, and to deny the Mercy of God on LGBTQ and couples in irregular union and to convicted criminals committing serious crimes is the Great Apostasy.
    Read paragraph12 of Papal Bull, Vultus Misericirdiae.

  7. G says:

    I’m very disappointed in this article. As a Catholic who wants to obey Pope Francis but has been deeply troubled by Radtrad criticisms, I thought Where Peter Is was the perfect resource for defending the Holy Father. But when articles like this are published, it makes you look like partisan hacks. You can’t publish article after article attacking right-wing dissidents, then try to ignore left-wing dissidents and only begrudgingly publish an article after an uproar on Twitter. You are confirming everything that Radtrads say about this website being wolves in sheeps’ clothing.

    The German bishops are clearly in defiance of the Pope and Rome, and should be called out as such. Don’t make lame excuses about how you’ll only trust German sources or whatever else to avoid writing on the topic, and don’t wear kids gloves for the German bishops when you fire on all cylinders every time Cardinal Burke mildly criticizes Pope Francis. Again, doing this makes this website look like cynical partisan hacks who want to cover up for the progressive wing of the Church.

    • Mike Lewis says:

      Two things:

      1. Cardinal Burke’s criticisms are far from mild. Re-read my article from a couple of weeks ago where he dismissed and mocked Magisterial teaching.

      2. The German Synod hasn’t happened yet. Yes, it is seriously concerning. But no meeting has taken place and no heretical resolutions have been passed. If an when they are, you can bet that we’ll criticize it. Right now, we don’t know what is going to happen. There is still a chance things might be worked out with Rome.

      Of course they should listen to the pope on this. If their Synod turns out disastrously, we’ll be all over it. But it hasn’t happened yet.

    • Mike Lewis says:

      And if you think we’re progressive hacks, you really haven’t read this site.

    • jong says:

      You want WPI to follow the footsteps of the Rad Trads channel of committing Rash Judgement on a German Synod that had not yet convene nor finalize a single document. Prudence will always guide the good soul to wait for the outcome of the German Synod first and then from the official documents it is now prudential to make the right judgment on the situation.
      Cardinal Burke et,al on other hand are attacking a mere “working document” on the upcoming Pan Amazon Synod that had not yet been officially discuss, not yet finalize and not yet forwarded to the Vatican for final approval of the Pope. Cardinal Burke et,al treat the mere “working document” as if it is already the official church teachings and ACCUSED numerous heresies & apostasy committed. And they spreads this thru the media claiming they have the right interpretation but in reality all they have were speculations. And ofcourse a lot of Rad Trads channels will synchronize their attacks and will present the Dubia Cardinals et,al interpretations and accusations as truth. This is the “snake tactics” of the Rad Trads imitating the old serpent style of presenting truth mix with intentional lies to sow Dubia to further confusions & divisions in the Church.

      • jude says:

        “the synod hasn’t even convened yet”… that’s not really the point, at least as far as i am concerned. These men are bishops and cardinals, pastors of souls for whole countries… and they profess this nonsense. Is the church such a big tent that one doesn’t even have to be Catholic to be a leader in it? And the pope picked them to write the IL, knowing who they were and what they would likely come up with. That is scary.

        Even if sanity and orthodoxy prevail in both the Amazon and Germany, (devoutly to be hoped, but also prayed for as the bishops called schismatic have said) the situation is not resolved. These men may go back to their homes agreeing to abide by a decision on this or that, but still believing what they always did. So, you will have men with outward obedience, (if they accept it) but inward heterodoxy (i.e. acting the part). And as to the people. Those who agreed with them will be in the same place thinking things like, “they were right, but the rigorists shut them down” or “the pope tried his best, but couldn’t overcome the resistance of the establishment, so we live to fight another day” (a sentiment which the pope himself seems to encourage sometimes)

        Some of the things written in that IL should never have appeared in any document written, published and delivered by Catholics, let alone by the official church with the approval of the pope. It causes CONFUSION at best. And all we can hope for, by WPI standards is that even if it gets voted in (what does that say about the condition of the church) the pope might stop it.

        I’m sorry, all is not well in the church. All is not well in the Vatican, and all is not well with the pope. Election to the office and installation as pope is not a sacrament. It is not invalidated, as the SV’s would say, if the cardinals didn’t follow proper form in the conclave, but on the other hand, it doesn’t make a man superhuman either. All of the graces needed to fulfill the office are given, but they don’t have to be cooperated with. There are bad popes, good popes, good popes who make bad decisions etc. Warning about the synod or whatever doesn’t necessarily mean schism. Blind obedience or acceptance of all things the pope says does not mean fidelity .

      • jong says:

        Read this latest article as the organizers behind the Pan Amazon Synod now speaks with clarity and how one can view all their efforts to listen to the people first. We need to listen to the people, is the Holy Spirit inspirations. Whatever the outcome of the Synod the Pope has the last say to discern which one will best serve the people of Amazon for them receive the Sacraments and be part of the life of the Church.
        One thing that strike me about the article is, when they reacted to all the critics of the upcoming Synod with one simple question.
        Do the critics ever been in the Amazon to witness and hear the needs of the people in that remote area? Do they understand the people sentiments in that area?
        Rash judgment is a mortal sin, and sadly the Dubia Cardinals were showing lack of prudence as none of them had listen to the people of Amazon nor they can say they are knowledgeable of their difficulties.
        This article link is good for us to better appreciate all the effort of the people behind the Pan Amazon Synod, as they said they are just a discerning body in the service of the Pope to help the Church in its mission to save souls.
        Amazon synod organizers defend focus on disputed issues, cite region’s needs
        Sep 23, 2019

    • Pedro Gabriel says:

      We are sorry that you consider standards for quality and credible content “lame excuses”. We, on the other hand, keep being committed to only publish criticisms of people or events we have a grasp about. We will not condemn biased sources in one article and then be goaded into accepting them at face value in another article only to be approved on purity tests. We keep being consistent: if it is so easy, then please contribute by helping us with the translation of the primary sources or finding us someone credible who does that. Accusing and casting a shadow of doubt from the outside while constantly ignoring any constructive contribution is very easy.

      • Cfaucheux says:

        I’m actually a freelance German translator, and I’d be more than happy to help you guys out when it comes to primary sources. You have my email address when I post, so reach out any time.

        I really respect your commitment to accuracy here. Reading German sources, though, it doesn’t appear much better than it does in English. In fact, it seems the more hysterical English language sources are kind of low-key ignoring the German issue because it forces them to acknowledge that Francis actually IS orthodox on the issues they keep claiming he isn’t.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        Thank you. I’ll email you as soon as I’m able

      • carn says:


        I am German; I am not aware of any smoking gun evidence that some German bishop supports heresy.

        The most i think one can argue is – as I did above – that the German bishops are very willing to include a hive of heretics in the synodal process.

        Also, one bishop said some time ago that group of women is right to call for protest, which call included a call NOT to attend mass on a certain sunday. That is also rather strange for a bishop to call something right/good which includes encouragement NOT to attend mass.

        Furthermore, there is a bishop who said something in favor of blessing homosexual couples, but worded it such, that it might be understood to bless them as persons and not their union.

        That is all rather suspicious. But i no think it constitutes evidence for that claim: “The German bishops are clearly in defiance of the Pope and Rome”

        And the claim is at least insofar wrong, as there are some bishops who speak out against the various heresies, although they are not many and they speak rather indirect.

        So please link if there is any evidence for heresy by bishops.

        And mind that evidence for having a backbone made of jelly is not evidence for heresy. That a lot of German bishops have a backbone made of jelly is also something i consider proven, so need to provide evidence there.

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        Thank you for your contribution. That helped give some perspective too.

      • Cfaucheux says:

        @carn, I think this is how I reply to you here, but sorry this comes out of order.

        You’re very right that there isn’t any smoking gun evidence that any bishops support heresy that I’m aware of. Surely, they tend to flirt with ideas that are iffier than many of us would be comfortable with, but which are within the bounds of theological debate and scholarship (Kasper vs. Ratzinger on ecclesiology, for example — the Germans appear to subscribe to Kasper’s position more). If I said the bishops are clearly heretical, I’m sorry, because I never intended that. and if I did say something about “in defiance”, I was referring specifically to Cdl. Marx’s response to the letters from Rome.

        And yes, allowing a group like the ZdK to participate in the process to the extent that they are is the biggest issue, and the one that seems to be the biggest problem canonically, according to the letter(s) from Rome (the letters are on the DBK website). They also clearly demand things that cannot be squared with Catholic morality or doctrine. And yes, I cannot believe any bishop would call Maria 2.0 good.

        By the way, what part of the country do you live in? My experience comes from living among Catholics in the Black Forest area, which was relatively rural and conservative. Yet, I ran into all kinds of notions there, such as the certainty among people that the Church only taught the Virgin Birth (not just her perpetual virginity) to “show that sex was bad”, as well as other stuff.

      • carn says:


        Thanks to God’s wisdom in each mass i hear, that “wir” (that includes me) pray for “unseren Bischof Reinhard”. Which is a good reminder for me. But i think what you describe is true for many parts of Germany and also Munich. Last easter virgil there was a short procession carrying the candle to the church; a cyclist passed by rather fast (meaning he was sober) and called out something; i didn’t understand, but the priest in the homily said that it was “Ku Klux Klan”; probably meaning the cyclist considered us to be the equivalent of racists.

        So one should be happy about bishops ready to speak indirectly, cause even that requires some courage. Cause its a pretty fast track from being again women priests and against abortion to being called a nazi.

        And actually the situation is technically worse in Switzerland; cause there the bishops are not in control of church taxes, but by committees elected; which means the ZdK just has a different name, but is in control of church money.

        Which means they are in a far stronger position and can show the tolerance:

        And put in something labelled
        “Newsletter der Katholischen Kirche im Kanton Zürich”

        “Newsletter of the Catholic Church in the canton Zurich”

        “«Der Marsch fürs Läbe» war mehr als eine Demonstration, es war eine Provokation der hetzerischen, ja gottlosen Art.”

        “‘Der Marsch fürs Läbe’ [swiss version of march for life] was more than a demonstration, it was a provokation of the rabble-rousing and even godless type.”

        Maybe I should never complain again, what i pay for with Church taxes, cause that newsletter is paid by the money of the faithful – and potentially semi-faithful, cause someone must elect these people.

        (Yes, there was a reaction from the Church: https://www.zhkath.ch/kirche-aktuell/kirche-im-kanton/stellungnahme-zum-gruess-gott-zuerich ; but they can only protest; they cannot fire the people in control of church taxes; the only way probably would be to excommunicate them, followed by a legal battle before swiss courts who would have to decide, how the state regulation about church tax and control thereof interact with the church excommunicating someone).

        Though of course katholisch.de (paid by my Church taxes) also went negative on the German march for life, but not calling it outright godless, just potentially hijacked by right wing populists (“von Rechtspopulisten gekapert worden sei” https://www.katholisch.de/artikel/22954-der-marsch-fuer-das-leben-eine-demonstration-mit-konfliktpotential).

        So in sum everything fine and nothing unusual going on. 🙂

      • carn says:

        “And yes, I cannot believe any bishop would call Maria 2.0 good.”


        “Bischof Franz-Josef Bode unterstützt die Bewegung “Maria 2.0”. “Ich finde die Aktion gut, um ein Zeichen zu setzen für mehr Beteiligung von Frauen in der katholischen Kirche”

        Bode betonte, er tue sich zwar schwer damit, wenn Frauen am Sonntag auch die Eucharistiegemeinschaft aufkündigen und in Pfarrsälen eigene Feiern abhalten.”

        “Bischop Franz-Josef Bode supports the movement “Maria 2.0” “I think the initiative is good to set an example for more involvement of women in the Catholic church.” …

        Bode emphasized that he has difficulties when women on sunday also rescind [i think “temporarily rescind” fits the actual meaning better] the eucharistic communion and have their own services in parish halls.”

        Its not explicit encouragement to not attend mass, but its not far from it either. If some initiative including skipping sunday mass is good and skipping sunday mass is only something with which the bishop has difficulties, that is close to giving thumb up.

    • Marie says:

      G- The difference is “what appears to be” is a good enough standard for most to run with, and openly criticize someone/something, whether it be the Youth Synod, the Amazon Synod, the German ‘synod’, anything Pope Francis says, etc. etc. Thankfully, Where Peter Is has a different standard, one in line with Catholic teaching, where gossip and speculation are not appropriate (and lack integrity), and dealing with facts and interpreting them in the most charitable way is.

      I’ll gladly wait for analysis on these difficult topics. The truth is what matters, and sometimes that information is not readily available, particularly when the event hasn’t even happened yet. The narrative continues to be that one has to be on a left or right side rather than just being a follower of the principles of our faith. It continues to dumbfound me.

      • G says:

        Instead of commenting individually to every single reply, I’m just going to reply to the most recent one.

        Looking through all these replies, I think the general idea is “We’re going to wait and see how the Synod turns out before we comment.” I absolutely agree with that notion. Pope Francis has shown himself to be consistent pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and anti-womens ordination, amongst other things, so I have reasonable hope that if a Synod were to embrace these positions, he would do his job as Vicar of Christ and confirm his brethren in the Faith.

        The reason you’re getting so much criticism isn’t, at least not for me, because you’re refusing to comment on hypotheticals, but because you’re taking a softball approach to a disobedient attitude that the German bishops have ALREADY displayed towards the Holy Father’s wishes. That is where the criticism is coming from.

        This is not gossip or slander. Another comment above mine has already given you German language sources showing that what conservative Catholics criticize the German church for is true. You have the Vatican and Cardinal Marx both commenting publicly on the matter. I’m actually not sure why my comment got so much attention when Carn gave you the sources in the German language that you keep asking to see. This isn’t gossip, this isn’t speculation about how the Synod will turn out, this is something that is currently happening for real in the Church.

        As I’m sure you all know, the reason many Traditionalists get angry at centrist defenders of the Pope us because they see us as providing covering fire for progressives, and then rationalizing changes to Church teaching after the fact. I dont want to think that’s what this website is doing, because I really enjoy it and have recommended it to people. But that’s why I’m commenting here, because I’m hoping this feedback will be useful.

        I really hate using labels like “progressive” or “centrist” because Marie is right, the Catholic Church should be above politics. I hope that WPI will hold dissidents from the “left” as accountable as people like Cardinal Burke or Bishop Schneider. And if this is the approach the blog chooses to take to these events, I hope they’ll be as careful and balanced the next time someone like +Schneider speaks out against the Pope, and take an equal amount of time to assess the situation and see how it plays out.

      • D.W. Lafferty says:

        Remember, “the pope” is not some abstract concept representing the highest authority in the Church. Our pope is Pope Francis. He has encouraged a ‘synodal way’ for the Church, even if it is more restricted that what the Germans have in mind. He often speaks out against “rigidness” and wants a Church that will listen to the laity. The ‘synodal way’ in Germany is a (very imperfect, it seems) reflection of that idea. Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider, among others like Archibishop Vigano and Cardinals Muller and Brandmuller, seem to attack everything the Francis papacy represents. They question all the initiatives that he has put in action. They create an atmosphere of discourse in which it is now acceptable to ask if the pope is a heretic or apostate. And they are creating this atmosphere through channels over which the Church itself has little control–LifeSite, the EWTN outlets, social media, their own websites, etc. It’s a very different situation than the one in Germany, involving more direct, personal attacks on the pope. If you want people who will go heresy hunting among the German clergy, ‪Maike Hickson at LifeSite, or Church Militant have you covered. That’s not what Where Peter Is does.

      • jong says:

        I hope you are not only looking in the German Synod alone, but a good judgement on this event will need a much broader picture of how the Rad Trads are undermining the Papacy of Pope Francis.
        I will give you the 2018 event, Pope Francis had an upcoming Youth Synod on Vocational Discernment and all the Rad Trads had thrown speculations and criticism to prevent it from happening. They throw a lot of rash judgment, but what happen? Facts are all their thrown accusation & speculation never happen and Pope Francis never heeded their call to postpone it in favor of Ab.Vigano’s bombs who was proven to be an “empty bomshell”, just pure accusations with no single evidence to proof.
        Pope Francis asked the USCCB to take a prayer retreat first before pushing with Blatimore Bishop Conference for them to in the prayer mode first, but do they listen to Pope Francis? No!
        Now, the Rad Trads are now very noisy criticizing and throwing a lot of speculations on the Pan Amazon Synod, and the wolves or the schismatic Bishops & Cardnals are not just contented with throwing rash judgment but they now include the German Synod in the equation to force Pope Francis not to push thru with the Amazon Synod. So, you see the Rads Trads are undermining the Church Mission in preaching the Mercy of God and helping all the lost & wounded souls have access to the Sacraments to receive the graces coming from the Church.
        The German Synod is an evil plot to counter the “working document of Pan Amazon Synod” and so it will create a confusions on a different outcome when both the German Synod and the Pan Amzon Synod push thru and their final document be presented for Vatican for Pope Francis approval. They will use the outcome to show that Pope Francis is favoring the Pan Amazon Synod over German Synod.

  8. George Palantine says:

    I have to agree with you. The situation in Germany is an instance of the Official German Church flirting with true rebellion against the Papacy. This is entirely different from a diffuse and leaderless movement of the laity in the US who merely criticize the pope, often with great vigor. Criticism is not schism. Refusing to obey the Pope is schism. Germany threatens schism, Burke et all have never done so. They have merely led criticism. Look back at JP II and Benedict, who endured their critics and let them have their say, then when necessary, issued magisterial declarations when that criticism went over boundaries. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is a good example.

    I hope WPI continues its policy of withholding judgment on things that have not happened yet. The papal opponents are almost uniform in their attempts to hype every action of the pope as some major deal. However they are entirely correct in their pointing out that the Germans really threaten something deeply divisive.

    So I was unpersuaded by this article.

  9. Miles says:

    Just a simple ‘Thank you” for your balanced, informative overview of complex issues.

  10. Jim the Scott says:

    My friends the Germans are doing everything you fantasized Cardinal Burke and company are going to do.

    That is as plain as a Bulgarian Pin Up!*

    *any Red Dwarf fans in the hoose?

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