A Catholic Cardinal has warned that the church is dying in Germany. In a letter to fellow church leaders, Cardinal Joseph Zen wrote of “the ongoing numerical decrease of Catholic faithful in Germany,” adding that numbers had fallen by more than half a million in 2022. Zen believes that the “synodal path” favored by the church, which aims to be inclusive of all viewpoints, is causing the church to veer from traditional Catholic teachings and prompting a “revolutionary change in the constitution of the Church and in the moral teaching about sexuality.”
Cardinal Zen is not alone in his view. Cardinal Raymond Burke, former head of the Vatican’s highest court, published a book this year to issue a similar warning. He argued that “synodality” was causing “grave harm” to the church and had prompted “confusion and error and their fruit, division – indeed schism,” particularly in Germany. Cardinal Burke adds that “synodality” is a revolution, and the word itself has no history in the church and no source in Christian doctrine.
Similarly, the late Cardinal George Pell called synodality a “toxic nightmare” that is “hostile” to traditional standpoints. Pell said the Synod of Bishops had created “one of the most incoherent documents ever sent out from Rome.”
At the heart of the issue, the document in question is the “Enlarge the Space of Your Tent” guidance issued by the Catholic Synod of Bishops last year. It notes that groups of people, including women and LGBT individuals, had not been valued by the church even though they often made a considerable contribution. Similarly, divorced people, single mothers, and people with disabilities had not been sufficiently embraced.
The document resulted from a gathering of church figures from around the globe who had come together to try to understand falling numbers and reverse the church’s dwindling influence. The group concluded that more traditional teachings must be set aside and various people previously sidelined should be welcomed to the heart of the faith.