German Catholic synod calls for gay blessings, women clergy, married priests

Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, Vice President of the German Synodical Assembly

The Roman Catholic Synodal Assembly for Germany has urged Pope Francis to rethink his opposition to women deacons and married priests, and also change the church’s teaching on the morality of homosexual practices. 

Meeting in Frankfurt am Main from 2 to 5 February 2022, the synod adopted several controversial resolutions that would change church practice. The synod voted in favour of blessing same-sex couples (161 to 34); asked for a reassessment of Church teaching on homosexuality (174 to 22); asked for the ordination of women deacons (163 to 42); and requested bishops allow priests permission to marry without leaving the priesthood (159 to 26).

The German synod, which opened in January 2020, was called in response to a 2018 report on the clerica sexual-abuse crisis in Germany. Speakers at this session of synod argued a change of church teaching was necessary to respond to the abuse crisis and to right gender wrongs in the organization and structure of the church. “Women are called in equal measure to exercise the diaconal ministry and there can be no exclusion here on the basis of gender,” the statement on deacons read, further stating the call for women deacons was an intermediate step toward opening “to all genders” the ordained ministry.

The synod is comprised of 230 members, of whom 192 were present at this session; 69 bishops, 68 members of the Central Committee of German Catholics, 10 representatives of monastic orders (3 monks, 7 nuns), 26 Diocesan priests, 15 representatives of youth organizations, 4 permanent deacons, 8 lay pastoral assistants, 3 professors of Catholic theology and 20 additional lay organization representatives. Of the 69 bishops eligible to attend, 59 were present.

The votes are not binding statements for the church, but express the will of the members of the synod. The German bishops must by a two thirds margin endorse the resolutions for them to be passed on to the Vatican for consideration.