The German Synodal Way: Will it Change Church Teaching to “Include” Homosexuals?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
The German Synodal Way: Will it Change Church Teaching to “Include” Homosexuals?
The German Synodal Way: Will it Change Church Teaching to “Include” Homosexuals?

Pope Francis has convoked a “Synod on Synodality” in Rome during October. Many faithful Catholics have expressed concern as the Synod’s promoters have proposed severe and potentially destructive changes to the Church’s structures and teachings.

The following article, adapted from the recently published book, The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box, discusses changes to Catholic Moral Teaching by Germany’s Synodal Way.

Synodaler Weg means Synodal Way. It is the particular way the Catholic Church in Germany has chosen to adapt to synodality, independently of the universal Synod, anticipating it and even surpassing Rome’s orientations.

Its call for radical change can be found in a preparatory document for the Weg that states: “We are convinced that the reorientation of pastoral ministry will not be possible without a substantial reshuffle of the Church’s sexual doctrine…In particular, the doctrine that considers sexual intercourse ethically legitimate only in the context of a lawful marriage and only in permanent openness to procreating offspring has led to a widespread rupture between the magisterium and the faithful.”1

Likewise, another Weg document states,

Same-sex sexuality—also realized in sexual acts—is therefore not a sin that is punished by God and is not to be deemed intrinsically evil…

  1. In the course of this re-evaluation of homosexuality, among other things, passages 2357—2359 as well as 2396 (homosexuality and chastity) of the Catechism[of the Catholic Church] should be revised…“Homosexual acts” must be removed from the list of “grave sins against chastity.”2

Yet another document is very clear: “One of the tasks of the Synod would be to develop a new view of homosexuality and same-sex relationships and to work toward an opening.”3

Others Support the German Position

Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator general of the October Synod, agrees. He declared that the Church’s doctrine on homosexual relations is “false” and must, therefore, be changed because “the sociological-scientific foundation of such teaching is no longer correct.”4

Get the book now! The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box is now available for $10.95.
Click here to get your copy now.

Other bishops’ conferences share this opinion. For example, some French bishops recently asked the pope to have the Catechism of the Catholic Church modified to not condemn homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law.” The French Bishops’ Conference has designated a commission of theologians to study reformulating the doctrine on this subject.5

Weg Promoters Propose Replacing Church Moral Doctrine

Weg promoters propose a new approach to sexual morality. It should be based no longer on divine and natural law but on the self-perception of one’s responsibility toward others.

Prof. Thomas Söding, vice president of the Synodaler Weg, writes: “The solution to the problem lies in redefining the relationship between personality and sexuality in Church teaching…Individual responsibility increases, combined with social tolerance and acceptance by the Church, which clearly defines when there is abuse [invasive behavior] and when human rights and dignity are attacked. But the Church also defines sexual self-determination and responsibility concerning others and oneself without spying on [people’s] sexual practices.”6

Other Calls for “Including” Homosexuals?

Almost all concluding documents of the synodal journey’s continental stages (Continental Syntheses) explicitly mention the need to include LGBT persons.

Moreover, high-ranking prelates have taken a similar line. For example, as already mentioned, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator general of the Synod, believes that changing the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is necessary.

Get the book now! The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box is now available for $10.95.
Click here to get your copy now.

For his part, Cardinal Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego, argues that the universal Synod is the right occasion to examine some Church doctrines, including the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood. However, his main focus is on the “radical inclusion of LGBT people.”

For the Californian cardinal, the Church’s distinction between persons of homosexual orientation who abstain from sinning and those who sin by committing homosexual acts is pastorally inconvenient as it divides the community about receiving Holy Communion and actively participating in Church life. All LGBT persons should be included based on the “dignity of every person as a child of God” without making the distinctions the Church makes.7

Photo Credit:  © sborisov –


  1. Der Synodale Weg, “Leben in gelingenden Beziehungen – Grundlinien einer erneuerten Sexualethik,” p. 2, accessed Jun. 21, 2023,
  2. Der Synodale Weg, “Handlungstext—Lehramtliche Neubewertung von Homosexualität,” pp. 4–5, accessed Jun. 21, 2023,
  3. Der Synodale Weg, “First Synodal Assembly, Jan. 30–Feb. 1, 2020, Frankfurt,” p. 16, accessed Jun. 21, 2023,
  4. “I believe that this is false. But I also believe that here we are thinking further about the teaching. So, as the Pope has said in the past, this can lead to a change in teaching.

    “So I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct.” (Simon Caldwell, “Cardinal Hollerich: Church Teaching on Gay Sex Is ‘False’ and Can Be Changed,” The Catholic Herald, Feb. 3, 2022,

  5. See Solène Tadié, “‘Several’ French Bishops Ask Pope to Reformulate Catholic Doctrine on Homosexuality,” National Catholic Register, Mar. 13, 2023,
  6. Thomas Söding, Gemeinsam unterwegs: Synodalität in der katholischen Kirche (Ostfildern, Germany: Matthias Grünewald Verlag, 2022), 271–72.
  7. Raymond J. de Souza, “Cardinal McElroy’s Attack on Church Teachings on Sexuality Is a Pastoral Disaster,” National Catholic Register, Jan. 26, 2023,

Related Articles: