An auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Cologne has announced he is no longer participating in the “Synodal Forum” on sexuality that is part of the “Synodal Path” underway in Germany.
Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp told the newspaper Die Tagespost on May 28 that the forum was trying to cast into doubt fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church on sexual morality by referring to sexuality as “polyvalent.”
The forum’s final working paper was operating on the assumption that the teachings of the Church on sexual morality required “further development,” the bishop said, adding that such an approach did not do justice to the Catholic view of the “divine gift of sexuality.”
Schwaderlapp told CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language partner agency, that whilst he was withdrawing from the Synodal Forum, officially titled “Life in Successful Relationships,” he still would be a participant in the “Synodal Process.”
“Over the last 50 years in particular, the magisterium of the Church has produced precise statements on questions of sexual morality. In doing so it has deepened and developed the teaching of the Church.”
“’Further development’ can never mean destroying what is there, rather it should build on it. In particular, the Holy Popes Paul VI and John Paul II made a binding statement that sexuality, from the point of view of creation, comprises two meanings that are inseparably linked: the transmission of life and the communication of love,” Schwaderlapp told CNA Deutsch.
Members of the Synodal Forum had been expected to accept the basic premise of a “polyvalent sexuality”, the bishop said, which would predicate a change in the Church’s teaching. No general debate of the presented paper been provided for, Schaderlapp said, which led to his decision to renounce his membership in the forum.
Speaking to CNA Deutsch, the bishop reflected on the papal documents Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio.
“These texts are not ‘food for thought’ but magisterially binding documents,” he said.
Missing genuine Catholic teachings
The bishop expressed concern that the approaches of the “Synodal Way” are missing the real concerns of Catholic people. He asked whether the “existential questions of the people” were really being dealt with in the process.
“Which of these questions are still relevant when we lie on our deathbed and prepare for the encounter with the heavenly judge – hopefully we will do that then? It seems to me that quite different questions are relevant then, for example, ‘How hard have I tried in my life – day after day – to love God and my neighbour?'”
It was not the alleged “clinging to tradition,” he said, that has alienated people from the Church, “but because we [the Church] are too concerned with ourselves and do not give answers to the existential questions of humankind.”
The bishop stressed that it is precisely in questions of morality and identity that the Church “really has something to say.”
Schwaderlapp also offered the view that “the widening gap between the Church’s teaching and the life of the faithful also tells us that the challenging understanding of sexuality as a gift from God has – at least in Germany – in recent years been criminally neglected. This must change, and urgently so.”