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Rome Reports

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Vatican and German bishops try to iron out differences in Rome

The Vatican and Germany's bishops tried to cool tensions in Rome, although it has become clearer than ever that differences will not be resolved in the short term.

After their ad limina visit of the to the Vatican, the German bishops and the Holy See issued a joint communiqué.

Its language is less confrontational than previous messages from either side, but it clearly indicates that there remain serious differences to be resolved. 

The discord between the two was born out of proposals emerging from Germany's local synod organized in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis within the German church.

The recommendations coming out of this synod have put Rome on alert since they suggest opening the door to ordaining women and blessing relationships between homosexual persons in the Church, among other proposals.

In a press conference at the end of their ad limina visit, the president of the German bishops' conference, Georg Bätzing, said that he is personally willing to bless same-sex couples. He maintained that the German bishops do not want to break away from the Catholic church, but that they will continue their synod. In Rome, the German bishops rejected a moratorium on the synodal process proposed to them by top Vatican officials.

Per the German bishops' communications, their ad limina visit was a candid face-to-face meeting with Vatican officials which helped smooth over the relationship between the Vatican and the German Church after they butted heads in July. Then, the Vatican explicitly warned them that their proposals could threaten the unity of the Church, and they responded harshly by criticizing the lack of direct dialogue with Rome.

Bätzing said he greatly appreciated the welcome from the Pope and the clear and transparent dialogue they had with his advisors.