How ironic it is that those who boast how open-minded they typically prove to be the most intolerant. Indeed, they are more likely to be die-hard ideologues who have made up their mind and are impervious to reason. It is no different in the Catholic Church.
Those who follow Church trends know that the most left-leaning clergy in the world are the Germans; the Africans are the most orthodox. There is one German bishop in the news this week that proves this point, and he is Essen Bishop Franz Josef Overbeck. He is participating in the Synod on Synodality in Rome, which ends its 2023 session this week.
Overbeck said many people have asked, “Are you still Catholics and part of the Catholic Church?” He replied, “Yes, of course, we are Catholics, and we are here to stay.” But on whose terms?
The reason Catholics are asking this question, and why even Pope Francis has expressed concerns about their dissidence, has to do with the results of a German Bishops’ Synod in 2019: they approved blessings for homosexual unions, infused transgender ideology into their ministry, and advocated for women priests. Overbeck says he is now in favor of ending priestly celibacy.
In short, these members of the German clergy want to Protestantize the Catholic Church. But that hasn’t worked out too well—few Lutherans attend church services.
Few are also attending Mass in Germany. Trendiness has failed completely, and yet clergy like Overbeck persist. In the last 13 years, he ordained 15 priests, and currently has no one in his seminary. So who is going to replace the 300 priests who died during this span?
The Catholic and Protestant churches are dying not because, as Overbeck says, we are ignoring the “signs of the times,” but because they are mimicking them. Orthodoxy sells; heterodoxy fails. The data prove it in Germany and around the world. But to ideologues, none of this matters. Irrationalism reigns supreme.
So why are the German dissidents committing institutional suicide? Overbeck says the reason why he is pushing to change the teachings of the Catholic Church on matters such as sexuality, ordination and governance (more women and lay persons) is to correct the systemic causes of clergy sexual abuse.
As I detailed in The Truth about Clergy Sexual Abuse: Clarifying the Facts and the Causes, the factors cited by Overbeck played no role in the scandal. It was driven by a refusal of Church leaders to insist on fidelity to Church teachings on sexuality. The breakdown in discipline, in particular with promiscuous homosexuals—they are the ones who caused the crisis—was commonplace in the late 1960s and the 1970s. The evidence is overwhelming.
It is astonishing to see at this late date, after all the damage that predatory homosexual priests have done, that there are senior voices in the Catholic Church in 2023 who still don’t get it. Ideologues never learn.