The German Strategy for the Synod – and another “Liberal” Shadow Synod, now in September

from Rorate Caeli [Official Website of the German Bishops’ Conference]
August 1, 2005
On Marriage and the Family : “We Have to See the Manifold Ways of How People Live Together” – Archbishop Heße Calls For More Realism in the Moral Teaching on Sexuality
The Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Heße, has called upon his Church to have more realism with regard to the moral teaching on sexuality. “We have to look upon the manifold ways and forms of living in which people live, as they now exist,” said the 48-year old to the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger  on Saturday. He, “of course,” also sees “same-sex couples entering the Metropolitan Cathedral of Hamburg, and nobody asking them to leave.”
Even though he is still somewhat hesitant concerning the “homo-marriage,” Heße also says: “But when these people seek to be close to us, then we as Church are there for them. What else?” The Church has to cherish it when in homosexual relationships there are to be found values such as fidelity and reliability. “In my eyes, this does not minimize the love and fidelity between two people,” according to Heße. He also wishes for the remarried divorcees “livable forms for the Church’s recognition and accompaniment,” without thereby giving up the ideal of marriage.
Heße also defended the reform of the Church’s Labor Law. “Otherwise, we could not keep going, because we could not find enough qualified employees, in order to be able to run our institutions,” said Heße; and he criticized the attitude of some of the Bavarian bishops who are hesitating to implement the reformed Labor Law. “I ask myself, what kind of image of the Church stands behind this? Do we want to be a Church which has her place in the middle of the world? Then, we have to be close to the life of the people, and we have to try to take along as many as possible. Or do we want, so to speak, a ‘Church of the Pure,’ without existential difficulties and disruptions? That indeed would then be a small, a very small crowd [sic] which only would have very few points of contact with its surrounding,” according to the Archbishop.
[…] [Source]
Matthias von Gersdorff is a German Traditional Catholic author and commentator. He has written two posts in his personal blog explaining the strategy of “Liberal” Catholics in Germany for the forthcoming Synod.
The Double Strategy of German Left-Wing Catholicism
Mathias von Gersdorff
August 4, 2015
Since the end of 2013, left-wing Catholic theologians and organizations have spread forth into the public, and with new strength and decisiveness, their old positions: erosion of the moral teaching on sexuality; new assessments of homosexuality; moral indifference toward the use of artificial contraception; acceptance of extramarital sexual commerce; positive assessments of non-marital partnerships, and so on.
These theologians and these organizations, such as “We Are Church” [Wir sind Kirche, a liberal Catholic organization in Germany] or the “Central Committee of German Catholics” lead now finally a campaign of protest more directly against the Catholic Magisterium. They wish to have a non-binding Magisterium and a devaluation of the priesthood as such, in order thereby to democratize the Church.
That these claims are in opposition to the binding treasure [deposit and heritage] of the Faith of the Church does not count in their eyes. They, in effect, want to found a new church. Normally, the Church’s authority should declare publicly that these kinds of demands are not Catholic.
Prior to the [October 2015] Synod on the Family, it has become clear that also some bishops are making public claims which are not in accordance with the teaching of the Church. That pertains especially to the admittance of remarried divorcees to Holy Communion, as well as to a certain acceptance of homosexual ways of life and partnerships.
This struggle against the Catholic Magisterium is only one of two strategies which German Left-Wing Catholicism uses in order to reach its vision of a new church.
This openly “combative” strategy, however, has two important disadvantages: first, it always causes immediately a counter-reaction; and secondly, it has always presented the image of a German “Sonderweg” [separate path] which stands in conflict with the Universal Church.
This is also the case with what one has been able to witness during the last few weeks: there was always a resistance against the more arrogant demands coming from Germany to weaken and raze the Church’s teaching on marriage, family and sexuality. The African Bishops have even already announced their intended resistance at the Family Synod in the Fall of 2015, should the German delegation actually try to implement its abstruse ideas.
The Left-Wing Catholicism also, therefore, has a second strategy: One has to take into account the real life conditions. The “societal realities,” after all, have changed.
That is at least how the new Archbishop of Hamburg, Stefan Heße, has recently argued. According to, he said: “We have to look upon the diversity of forms of life that are out there, after all.” Concerning the new Church Labor Law – which does not anymore automatically prescribe the termination of contract in the case of a remarriage after a divorce, or in the case of someone’s entering into a homosexual partnership, or in the case of someone’s leaving the Church – Archbishop Heße has said: “Otherwise, we could not keep going, because we would not have enough qualified employees in order to be able to run our institutions.”
In similar fashion, the director of the Caritas in the diocese of Munich, Hans Lindenberger, has spoken – after a lesbian head of a Day Care Center of Caritas in upper Bavaria, in Holzkirchen, has been permitted now still to keep its position. She had entered into civil union with another woman.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung, moreover, wrote about this: “Prelate Lindenberger showed himself to be relieved about the continuation of the working relationship. The head of the Day Care Center had been always loyal to her employer, and she had never given any cause for scandal.” Obviously, the prelate does not have a feeling for the seriousness of this case: toward the outside, the message is sent that the (German) Catholic Church has changed her attitude toward practiced homosexuality.
In the wake of this development, the Catholic Shooting Association with its approximately 300,000 members follows also along : “The association is following the new Church’s Labor Law, according to which a remarriage or a [homosexual] civil union has consequences only any more in serious cases,” according to the “Catholic News Agency [Katholische Nachrichtenagentur] KNA.”
Obviously, in numerous German dioceses, the dissolution of the Catholic Church is being promoted, step by step. One does not need to be an expert in calculus in order to be able to grasp that the boundaries of this strategy aim at the end of Catholic life.
The new Church’s Labor Law is the ideal instrument to use, in order to deracinate [and sever] the Catholic Church in Germany from her past. The new Labor Law does not know any automatic  procedures. Each case has to be decided upon individually, whether an employee who finds himself in an irregular situation is still employable
In “Conservative” Dioceses, they more or less want to follow the old rules, while “liberal” dioceses will even openly promote homosexuals and the remarried in order to gain the image of being modern. Three dioceses, Passau, Regensburg, and Eichstätt, do not at all want to implement the new Church Labor Law.
Left-Wing Catholicism has always avoided to mix these two strategies.
A connection between these two strategies could likely turn out to be explosive: If, one day, a theological justification would become necessary, in order for them to preserve such an unorthodox practice, it would then come to be a heresy and thus lead to a schism in the Church. In such a situation, the protagonists and the agitators could quickly become the hunted ones: also Henry VIII and Martin Luther did not intend to provoke a schism at the beginning, but, one day, they were not any more the masters of the situation…
Family Synod: Marx & Company Receive Rear Cover
Mathias von Gersdorff
August 5, 2015
The ragged and isolated German delegation for the [October 2015] Synod of Bishops – most probably also the most liberal one in the whole world – receives now further support by liberal bishops, namely by those who are less damaged [tainted] in the eyes of the public.
The Bishop of Leiria–Fátima, António Marto, has now professed himself to be a follower of Kasper.
With it, he entered into a polemic with the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, at a gathering of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference convening at the end of July. According to press releases (, Cardinal Clemente was finally able to impose his own position. Nevertheless, it was noted with astonishment just how much the Portuguese Episcopate finds itself to be divided when it comes to the question of the remarried divorcees.
In the meantime, the liberal camp prepares another conference in Rome, to be held on 10-12 September 2015, and which is to deal with the themes of the Family Synod of this Fall.
However, this time, it is not organized by the Germans, the Swiss, and the French. They had already convoked and hosted a similar conference at the end of May 2015, which had caused noticeable irritations. One even considered it to be a “Shadow Synod” and a “Secret Gathering” with the intent to plan the liberal agenda of the Synod in the Fall of 2015 in Rome. Indeed, there spoke some of the sharpest opponents of the Catholic teaching on marriage and the family.
The most important Man of the Church at the September 2015 conference will be Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. In spite of his Latin-American origin, Cardinal Maradiaga represents a strongly liberal position.
Numerous speakers defend the abstruse positions of Cardinal Walter Kasper, such as, for example, the German theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff. The conference is being organized by the “International Academy for Marital Spirituality” (, a clearly liberal institution.
The intention of these new initiatives and statements is arguably to remove the Germans out of the line of fire. With their attacks against the Catholic teaching and their partially arrogant advances, the Germans had provoked international resistance and maneuvered themselves into isolation.

[Translations kindly provided by Maike Hickson.]

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36 Responses to The German Strategy for the Synod – and another “Liberal” Shadow Synod, now in September

  1. “Heße also defended the reform of the Church’s Labor Law. ‘Otherwise, we could not keep going, because we could not find enough qualified employees, in order to be able to run our institutions,’ said Heße.”

    “(W)e could not find enough qualified employees”? Seriously? Germany is that full of divorced and remarried and LGBT Catholics? Come on, bishop. I live in Germany. Gimme a break. It is preposterous to believe that the Catholic Church in Germany cannot find enough faithful, qualified Catholics to staff its institutions.

    (I’m also kind of curious as to why CP&S writes “Heße” in this article, since the letter “ß” does not exist in English. That letter is pronounced “ss,” and whenever Germans write something in English that includes a name with “ß,” they simply write “ss.” “Heße” would normally be written “Hesse.”)

  2. toadspittle says:

    Pointless going on in this absurd fashion.
    Split the Church into two: Lib-Caths and Trad-Caths.
    …Then we’ll all be able to get a bit of sleep.

  3. Michael says:

    I half-agree with you here Toad. I certainly don’t think the Church should itself be split into two, but those holding the viewpoints represented above have virtually become Protestant anyway – their adherence to the authority of the Magisterium is purely nominal, and it is clear that their objective is to change the Church from within – so I think it is high time something like this happened (I know this clip has been posted here a few times before already, but it never seems to lose its power to underline the point):

  4. kathleen says:

    Since the end of 2013, left-wing Catholic theologians and organizations have spread forth into the public… etc.

    “Catholic” ^ here should be with a little ‘c’, for what follows clearly demonstrates that these “theologians” and “organisations” are quite simply no longer Catholic, not in its true sense of followers of Christ and His Church. They are destroyers of the One True Faith, having abandoned Her Teachings, and influenced only by the World, the Flesh and the Devil.

    Normally, the Church’s authority should declare publicly that these kinds of demands are not Catholic.

    Exactly! That was the way of our great Popes, bishops, and saints in former times. So why not now?

  5. Some information, simply put, on the Catholic Church here in Germany:

    You’re divorced and adulterously “remarried” and you want to be employed by a Catholic Church institution in Germany? That’s FINE with the bishops.

    You’re in a same-sex partnership and you want to be employed by a Catholic Church institution in Germany? That’s FINE with the bishops.

    You’re cohabiting in an adulterous relationship and you want to be employed by a Catholic Church institution in Germany? That’s FINE with the bishops.

    You’re unmarried and raising your illegitimate child and you want to be employed by a Catholic Church institution in Germany? That’s FINE with the bishops.

    BUT you fail to pay your “church tax” which the government passes on to the Church, and in doing so you deprive the bishops of income, AND you want to be employed by a Catholic Church institution in Germany? That’s NOT fine with the bishops. And in fact, IF YOU DON’T PAY YOUR CHURCH TAX IN GERMANY, YOU ARE BARRED FROM COMMUNION AND CONFESSION; YOU CANNOT BE MARRIED IN THE CHURCH; YOU CANNOT RECEIVE THE LAST SACRAMENTS AND YOU ARE REFUSED A CATHOLIC BURIAL.

    “Mercy,” as defined by the German bishops, is passing strange.

  6. johnhenrycn says:

    The “German Strategy” will lead to this.

    Does the Holy Spirit attend all these “Shadow Synods”? We should ask her.

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    I should have lower-cased the H and S (cf: Kathleen at 09:51).

    If things go the way the left/liberal/progressive/transgressive/feminist We Are Church faction hope, I wonder what others here personally plan to do, especially (but not only) if they live in a diocese with a bishop who sides with the WACkys. Yes, prayer is the sine qua non, but what else ought to be done in the event of a successful attack against the Church of the Ages?

  8. Michael says:

    Good grief. Just when you think the world of liberal Protestantism can’t get any more ridiculous…

  9. Michael says:

    Could you refine the question a little? Do you mean what would one do if the Synod in October produces heterodox results, or if the Church as a whole gets dragged in that direction (in terms of official pronouncements etc)? I think that the results of a synod can be ignored, and later declared anathema, so whilst anything other than affirmation of what the Church has always taught in October would be deeply troubling, it wouldn’t necessarily mean the wheels had come off. If the latter situation emerged though, I would have to question a great many things indeed…

  10. johnhenrycn says:

    Michael, it’s possibly imprudent for me to invite speculation on what is to be done if things go badly. You’re right (in suggesting) that some mealy-mouthed synodal platitudes about pastoral delicacy won’t mean we’re on our way to hell in a handcart – the Rock of Ages has seen off far worse distractions and threats to doctrine than that. Plan A (prayer) is always, always the ultimate answer, but as a human being whose faith in our temporal leaders is a bit wobbly right now, I can’t help asking about Plan B – or should I say Plan A(i) ?

  11. johnhenrycn says:

    Yes, Michael, it is ridiculous. That woman minister is a minister of the United Church of Canada, in which I was baptised. Still, she was only following the lead of her male betters 😉 in that denomination, the moderator (‘pope’) of which (when I left) was this guy, who actually said: “I don’t believe Jesus was God.”

    Here’s an interesting photo from my past:

  12. johnhenrycn says:

    …A photo of the last United (Methodist) Church I ever visited as a Protestant, although when I did so, I was an Anglican (long journey) two weeks away from being received into the real Church.

    I’ve told this story before, but without the photo, so bear with me: the church building behind the main building in the photo is St Michael’s (or St Michael, if you prefer the lexicon of Fr Adrian Fortesque, as do I) Cathedral; but before going to St Michael’s for my first Confession, I went to say goodbye to the Christian denomination that baptised me and to which I will always be grateful because of that. But when I went to the front door of Metropolitan United that Saturday morning, it was locked tight…I then went around to the side door on the left…also locked tight!

    …so then I walked across the street to St Michael(‘s) – all doors open – and have never looked back and never will.

  13. johnhenrycn says:

    Fr Fortescue, please beg mercy for my miserable convert soul:

  14. geoffkiernan says:

    Shadow Synods and Secret Gatherings……….Who but satan would be happy with such tactics?

  15. johnhenrycn says:

    “Who but satan”, indeed. These persons conspiring in backrooms are politicians more than bishops. They will go to the October synod with a definite party platform, and heaven help any Holy Spirit that gets in their way.

  16. geoffkiernan says:

    HEBE- “Do we want a Church which has her place in the middle of the world? Then we have to be close to the life of the people.”
    I would have thought the Church, although she be in the middle of the world, would prefer not to be of the world. But then again I am foolish enough to think that the People should be closer to the life of the Church.

  17. johnhenrycn says:

    One word: Freemasons.

  18. GC says:

    But when I went to the front door of Metropolitan United that Saturday morning, it was locked tight…I then went around to the side door on the left…also locked tight!

    …so then I walked across the street to St Michael(‘s) – all doors open – and have never looked back and never will.

    After Justin Welby, as Michael points out, has finished making his overtures to these our Swiss and German friends, discussions can then be initiated for a chapter of Bishop Gmür’s Pan-German Discussion Group to also unite with the United Church of Canada and enjoy the facilities in cosmopolitan Tronno.

    The Pan-German Discussion Group would particularly appreciate the locked doors of which you speak, JH – being behind them, that is.

  19. johnhenrycn says:

    Dear GC: after Tronno, you lost me. But I don’t speak Canadian.

  20. GC says:

    It was a reference to the common impression that this German and Swiss group of hierarchs and heretics try to keep their mini-synod meetings secret and confidential, JH

  21. Brother Burrito says:

    Meet Canada’s only known Superhero: Canada Man

    His superpower is being able to say “Sorry”.

  22. johnhenrycn says:


  23. johnhenrycn says:


  24. johnhenrycn says:

    Saying “sorry” is good for you: Canadians are mocked for always apologizing, but it’s not a flaw. Saying “sorry” boosts happiness and strengthen relationships. Researchers at the University of Waterloo (up the road from me) have found that apologizing to a cop when pulled over for speeding can get fines reduced an average of $51. Sometimes the cop will say he’s sorry. True, some scientists claim that refusing to apologize for your actions leads to a sense of empowerment, but that sort of thinking only appeals to Americans. Sorry.

  25. toadspittle says:

    It’s so clearly obvious it’s better to Canadian than American that it’s a waste of ink comparing them.
    What we need are 99 reasons why it’s better to be an American than a citizen of The Peoples Republic Of The Congo, for example. (If there actually are 99 of them.)

  26. geoffkiernan says:

    With respect Mr Spit, what has one thing got to do with the other

  27. GC says:

    … after Tronno, you lost me. But I don’t speak Canadian

    Yer mean they say it more like “Trahno” these days, is that it, JH?

  28. geoffkiernan says:

    Even without a precise understanding of what the Church’ new labour laws would entail, to suggest that she ( the church) would have a limited pool from which to draw employees because of he preference for ‘dinky di’ Catholics is just plain dumb. ( ‘Dinky Di’? now that is a dead give away)

    Despite the inroads of the nice catholic church there are many real Catholics left ( and growing) to fill the need to sustain and enhance any genuine Catholic need.
    His stupid comment will be seen for what it is…..
    The problem with his ‘Highness’ , Hebe, he thinks everyone is at silly as he is.
    The sad problem with my argument is of course, that there are many half baked catholics about the place who refuse to stand up, and give some credence to his claim.
    Hebe?….. He is a fraud

  29. toadspittle says:

    Spit don’t need no respect, Geoff.
    Nothing – is the answer.
    …That’s the point.

  30. Michael says:

    Thanks JH – I’ve not heard that story before, and it is a good one! Apart from the symbolism the closed doors provides within your story, it reminds me of a growing trend in the UK (and I presume that things are roughly the same in Canada), wherein we have quite a number of Protestant churches, many of them of great antiquity, that are only actually open for about three hours a week. Conversely, for the most part (although these numbers are decreasing gradually too), Catholic churches, no matter how small, remain open.

    It reinforces the impression that the former have become virtually nothing more than museums of religious history, whereas the latter still retain their identity first and foremost as places of worship. Anyway, the availability of Catholic churches (as well as the feeling one actually gets walking into one – very marked difference to what one feels in even in the most aesthetically pleasing Anglican cathedral, IMO), no matter how meagre their means, has always struck a chord with me, even if at many times in the past I didn’t know what that chord was.

    As for the likes of Bill Phipps et al, it really does beggar belief doesn’t it – I still can’t quite get my head around how one manages to describe themselves as a Christian whilst quite openly jettisoning virtually all the major tenets of Christian belief*. I know human beings are often capable of extraordinary levels of self-deceit, but cases such as these take that process to the heights/depths of the absurd.

  31. Michael says:

    Plan A (prayer) is always, always the ultimate answer, but as a human being whose faith in our temporal leaders is a bit wobbly right now, I can’t help asking about Plan B – or should I say Plan A(i)

    Yes, I know what you mean, and share some of your fears (although personally, I am convinced that the liberal move-makers working rather conspicuously behind the scenes don’t have quite as much influence as they like to think they do, and also that they have shown their hand too soon, allowing for it to be soundly trumped at the forthcoming Synod). I’m not sure what Plan B/A(i) should be, but I suppose whatever it is can’t be anything too niche – rather it most likely should be an extension of our general effort to reform ourselves, the Church and the world, at a time which is sorely in need of both sanctification and common sense.

    I already posted this link a few days ago on another thread, but I think Dr. Esolen has the right idea in general, and, in case you didn’t see it, here it is again:

    I suppose the bottom line is that we just have to get stuck in and start bringing a bit of salt and light wherever we can. The world, flesh and the devil certainly aren’t going to slack off anytime soon, so we have to be proactive in any way possible.

  32. Michael says:

    P.S. I was reading Edward Norman’s The Roman Catholic Church: An Illustrated History the other day, and marked the following passage, from Norman’s discussion of the high Middle Ages:

    ‘It was a time of extraordinary religious vitality. This may be seen, paradoxically, in the reappearance of heresy on a significant scale. Unorthodox opinions about the nature of the faith are not always generated by public disgust at clerical abuses or the resurgence of superstition: they often indicate a yearning for pristine values, and are a sign of vitality. Apathy can kill, whereas error can stimulate.’

    The reason I quote this here is that I think our problem is precisely the opposite to what Norman describes. Whereas back then (and in the early Church also) heresies abounded at least partly because of an over-zealous desire for practical or doctrinal purity, and heresiarchs were often so over-zealous for one particular part of Catholic doctrine that they neglected to submit their thinking to the authority of the Church and have their views corrected by being placed within her teaching as a whole.

    Nowadays, there seems to be really only one heresy – it still neglects to submit its views to the authority of the Church, but not because of zeal. Instead it simply ignores the idea that there might be any authority or any truth that could shape life and thought beyond the desire of the individual to satisfy the will (and this can be the satisfaction of the ego or intellect just as much as the ‘freedom’ to do what one wants with the body). It is born of a curious mixture of apathy and lust for ‘self-realisation’ (perhaps these two always go together come to think of it). Anyway, it is a curious situation indeed, and very different to the errors of the past, which were at least partly motivated by the desire for truth, and rooted in a knowledge of one’s own need for salvation.

  33. johnhenrycn says:

    Excellent, well thought out and rigorously edited comments, MK. Wish I had more time to contribute a worthy response. Later.
    You know, and don’t read too much into this anyone, but I even appreciate reading comments where the typist has arranged paragraphs in a way pleasing to the eye (not too long, not too short, no orphan words dangling alone at the start of the last line of a paragraph, etc.); and it can be done, although since we lowly commenters don’t have any ex post facto ability to change what’s been already posted, it’s a bit of a hit and miss proposition.

  34. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad: you’re being far too hard on the land which provided for your retirement, or failing that – where you met your lovely and talented wife (the last one, I mean). The Yanks can be kind and generous and neighbourly, even if not too swift (sorry, Ginnyfree) as this clip shows. Granddaughter tells me she saw Leonardo DiCaprio in this city (not at this intersection, though) yesterday, and that he’s now obese and hirsute:

  35. Brother Burrito says:

    Great clip JH!

    I am always telling people to overcome their politeness in times of great urgency or need.

    eg: A Cistercian should break his silence when his brother’s habit is on fire, a student nurse should point out that the patient has no pulse etc.

  36. Michael says:

    Sorry JH, I did see this reply earlier, but had to dash off and then forgot to respond. Thanks for the comments, and I do hope you write a longer follow-up – would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

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