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German cardinal issues stark warning about ‘Synodal Way’

CNA Staff, Sep 28, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A German cardinal issued a stark warning Saturday about his country’s controversial “Synodal Way.”

In an address to former students of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Rome Sept. 26, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki said that the initiative’s draft texts appeared to press for the ordination of women to the priesthood. 

“The synod texts seem to want to prepare quite consciously for the consecration of women,” he said.

“If this should not succeed, new offices [for women] are to be created -- not because one could cite concrete ‘needs.’”

The “Synodal Way” is a process bringing together German lay people and bishops to discuss four major topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.

When the German bishops launched the initiative, they initially said that the deliberations would be “binding” on the German Church, prompting a Vatican intervention

In his address, recorded by EWTN - Katholisches TV and reported by CNA Deutsch, the archbishop of Cologne said that the push for female ordination seemed to be a response to the perception that the exclusion of women from ordained offices was “hurtful and unjust.”

“Certainly an answer must be found to this reality of life, but not against revelation,” he said. 

He explained that the “reality of life” that had led to the “Synodal Way” in the first place was the damage to the Church’s credibility in the wake of the clerical sexual abuse scandals. But he said that the draft texts did not reflect this.

“If only a marginal paragraph is devoted to this problem [of damaged credibility], I cannot deny the suspicion that this reality of life seems to be only a vehicle to make long-cherished wishes come true,” he said.

Woelki hit the headlines in Germany earlier this month when he said that the worst outcome would be if the Synodal Way “leads to a split and thereby outside of the Church, out of communion with the universal Church.”

In a Sept. 17 interview with the German Catholic news agency KNA, the cardinal said he feared that this would create “something like a German national church.” 

His comments were downplayed by Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, who insisted that the Church in Germany is “part of the Universal Church and nothing will change that.”

Woelki was one of the speakers at a symposium bringing together the Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Circles of Alumni (Schülerkreise) in Rome. The circles consist of an older group of former doctoral students of Joseph Ratzinger and newer members inspired by the retired pope’s theology. 

Other speakers included Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who wrote to Bätzing earlier month expressing alarm about an appeal by German theologians for intercommunion between Catholics and Protestants.

In his address, Woelki made further criticisms of the “Synodal Way” process.

He said: “I also cannot deny a further suspicion, namely that it is the tradition and interpretative communion with the universal Church that is called into question here, rather than the concern of finding real answers that do justice to realities of life as well as to the truth of revelation.”

“I would therefore like to emphasize once again: I am willing to engage in a dialogue about the realities of life. I am not prepared to do so against the living tradition of the Church.” 

He continued: “This distorts the Word of God. This makes dialogue with God impossible, which should lead us to our actual happiness and to true joy. This blocks the path to communion with Him, which makes us into the person we are truly supposed to be and yearn to be.”

Seafarers charity Apostleship of the Sea is renamed Stella Maris

CNA Staff, Sep 28, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- The Apostleship of the Sea, a Catholic charity helping seafarers worldwide, will now be known as Stella Maris.

In a letter to the organization’s chaplains and volunteers released by the Holy See press office Monday, international director Fr. Bruno Ciceri said the change was necessary because the charity had different names in different countries, causing “confusion and misunderstanding.”

“From now on ‘Stella Maris’ will be the official name with which the Apostolate of the Catholic Church for the people of the sea will be known. This will replace the current name, ‘Apostleship of the Sea,’” he wrote, also unveiling a new logo for the charity which is present in 55 countries and supports more than a million seafarers a year.

In a letter marking the organization’s 100th anniversary, Cardinal Peter Turkson praised the updated logo (pictured below).

“The new Stella Maris logo has been designed by affirming our Catholic roots and maintaining the distinctive symbolism of the past,” the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said.

“The logo is not only a nice sticker but it represents our unity and common identity. It should be our guide and source of our inspiration for our commitment at the service of the maritime world.”

In his letter, Ciceri noted that when the port ministry was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1920, the organization was named Apostleship of the Sea as it was inspired by the Apostleship of Prayer, a global association that began in France in 1844. 

“Furthermore, with the growth of the Apostolate, many new seafarers centers were established in different ports and were called ‘Stella Maris’ (in English, Star of the Sea), a traditional name for Our Lady -- referring to her as the guiding star who leads to Christ,” he said in his letter to members dated Sept. 24.

“These two names are often inscribed inside the logo, appearing interchangeably and commonly used to define our ministry to the people of the sea. Sometimes this has created confusion and misunderstanding, giving the impression that we were two different and separate organizations.”



Ciceri argued that Stella Maris was a better name for the charity “because, being Latin, it has greater potential for global reach.” He explained that it would not need to be translated into different languages, removing another source of potential confusion.

He added: “The term also transliterates well into non-Roman alphabet systems (such as Cyrillic) or even pictorial language systems (such as Chinese). Both these language systems are important to the shipping industry and the crews of ships.”

Ciceri urged the organization’s branches to also adopt the new logo, replacing one designed by co-founder Peter F. Anson. 

He explained: “The new logo retains all the elements of the original one designed by Peter F. Anson: the anchor, the lifesaver and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the rays of light with the addition of the waves of the sea (reminding us of the importance of the case for the environment) and the name for which we are known, Stella Maris.” 

“All the symbols are simplified and represented in a modern way, adopting eye-catching colors commonly seen in the maritime industry.”

The charity had planned to mark its centenary with a world congress in Glasgow. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it is inviting well-wishers to take part in a “virtual celebration” on Oct. 4. Archbishop Philip Tartaglia will celebrate a Mass that will be livestreamed via the Stella Maris UK website

In his letter to Stella Maris supporters, Turkson said he would have liked to have welcomed them personally to the world congress.

“Instead, we are all ‘confined’ in our countries, with limited freedom of movement, not knowing if and when we shall have a definitive solution to this crisis,” he wrote.

“In spite of the limitations imposed on us by the pandemic of COVID-19, we still would like to celebrate the humble beginning of Stella Maris.”

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