The Catholic Church in Germany has been the leading proponent of heterodox (heretical) teaching and practice for decades now. While we can find many examples of heterodoxy, innovation, and outright lunacy in other places throughout the Church, the German bishops have taken a leading role and are now in the process of positioning themselves as the chief voice of heterodox teaching and practice. This year, 2020, the Catholic Church in Germany went forward with its own synod, operating against the wishes of Rome, setting out to redefine Catholicism in its own way, with its own rules, and with its own outreach to other Catholics throughout the world. Germany is now in the advanced process of setting up a rival Vatican. Schism is now inevitable.
The Catholic Church will split into two main camps, not only within our lifetime, but probably within this decade, and it’s going to happen very, very fast. Schism is unavoidable now. Nothing can stop it. It’s going to happen and it’s guaranteed. The only question that remains now is: how big will it be?
Germany’s bishops are positioning themselves to make sure it’s as big as possible. While the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg & Liechtenstein) are already within the sphere of Germany’s influence, the German bishops are now reaching out to English-speakers with their own English propaganda arm Katholische Nachrichten-Agentu (KNA), which translates into “Catholic News Agency.” The official English name for this outreach has yet to be announced, since “Catholic News Agency (CNA)” is a name already used by a subsidiary of EWTN (a semi-conservative Catholic network). So they’ll probably have to come up with something different. They’ll likely have no shortage of accomplices in the English-speaking world though. There are plenty of Catholic news sources in English that will gladly run KNA articles for them. An article detailing this latest move by the German bishops can be read here. The agenda of KNA is to make sure they control the translation and publication of German synodal documents into English, as well as to make sure they’re generously distributed throughout the English-speaking world. The objective of this act is clear to anyone with eyes to see. Germany’s innovations already have a significant amount of sympathy in the English-speaking world (Anglosphere), and English is still the language of commerce and politics for the entire globe. Getting Germany’s heretical documents published in English insures maximum distribution to the entire Catholic Church worldwide. If you’re going to set up a rival Vatican (functionally speaking) then you need to make sure your propaganda gets out to the most Catholics possible. I would imagine that a Spanish propaganda arm will be next, followed by one in Portuguese.
Catholics will soon be faced with having to discern what “type” of Catholicism one practices. The liberal versions of Catholicism will soon be consolidated under the umbrella of German Catholicism, thanks to the ongoing German Synod now underway. Meanwhile, what we’ve always known as Roman Catholicism will emerge as more conservative, traditional and orthodox in the long run, but probably not under this current pontificate. Francis’ interaction with the German bishops has been, at best, a strategy of procrastination — just kick the can down the road for as long as he can and hope the problem goes away. That’s his interaction described at best. At worst, we could theorize that he’s actually cooperating with the Germans by allowing them to move forward without any hindrance from Rome. As to why he would do this? It’s pure speculation. Some say it’s because he secretly agrees with them. Others say it’s because he knows schism is the only way to save orthodoxy in Rome. Who knows? It doesn’t really matter what his motivation is anyway. The result will be the same no matter what — schism.
The schism will come (legally and juridically) when we finally have a pope with enough backbone to stand up to the German bishops. Pope Francis is not that man. At least, he hasn’t been that man so far. Which is why I continue to describe him as a “weak pope.” That estimation is made in charity towards him. It literally is the nicest thing I can say, and it is totally accurate. The German bishops are pushing their agenda and Pope Francis keeps backing down. That’s pontifical weakness. The reason and motivation behind it is irrelevant and I’m not going to bother to speculate.
Perhaps the next pope will have enough backbone to stand up to the German bishops by excommunicating them when they cross the line, or maybe the opposite will happen. Maybe the next pope will side with the German bishops and excommunicate all Catholics who don’t go along with the Germans. If that happens, then the papacy has been reduced to a puppet instrument of Germany. The pope will have made himself irrelevant, and Germany will be running the Catholic Church worldwide. I honestly don’t think that’s going to happen. If the pope sides with Germany, he will lose almost all of Africa, and there are nearly as many Catholics in Africa as there are in Europe! Not to mention the fact that if he loses Africa, many Catholics in the Americas will follow, as well as more than a few in Europe. It’s ecclesiastical suicide. So I don’t think the pope will openly side with Germany, not this one or the next. At worst, we will continue to have a weak pope, who fails to confront the German bishops, and that in turn will lead to the inevitable.
As I said in a previous essay, many things may lead up to the great Catholic schism of the 21st century, including issues related to homosexuality, but the one thing that will define the schism, and make it irreversible, will be the ordination of women. Once women are ordained, the schism is underway whether the pope recognizes it or not. Here’s why…
I, as a Roman Catholic, am not currently in communion with any woman who has been “ordained” as a Catholic priestess. The reason why I’m not in communion with her is because she’s been excommunicated, along with anyone who was directly involved in her “ordination.” This has been the law of the Church for decades, even centuries. Pope St. John Paul II said it perfectly when he wrote…
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.Pope St. John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 4
The Catholic Church in Germany will break this teaching. I’m calling it right here and now. They will break it, as a direct result of their synodal process, and they will encourage others to do the same. They may begin with ordaining women to the diaconate, but that will just be temporary. The ordination of women to the priesthood will begin shortly thereafter. Once that happens, I (as a Roman Catholic) will no longer be in communion with those women or anyone who had a direct hand in their ordination, which would mean some Catholic bishops as well. This would be the case, regardless if the pope is strong enough to excommunicate them or not. It’s been the case my entire life as a Catholic, and it will remain the case for the remainder of my life, regardless of who sits on the Chair of Peter, and regardless of what he does or doesn’t do. If you call yourself a “woman priest” then you’re not Catholic, as far as I’m concerned, and neither is the bishop who “ordained” you. I, as a Roman Catholic, will not receive communion, or even attend Mass, in any parish presided over by a female “priestess.” Thus, the schism is present, defacto and permanent, regardless if it’s been declared or not, and I’m not the only Roman Catholic who feels this way. Once the German bishops begin ordaining women, and they will, their organization ceases to be the “Catholic Church in Germany” and becomes instead the “German Catholic Church” which is schismatic and separate from the Roman Catholic Church, whether the pope is strong enough to recognize it or not.
If the pope doesn’t act quickly, once the female ordinations begin in Germany, then the contagion will spread rapidly to other countries. Austria and Switzerland will fall next, followed by several bishops in the UK, US, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. If that happens, Catholics like me will never darken the door of a parish with a woman “priestess” or the cathedral of a bishop who committed such a schismatic act.
How long would it be before bishops start excommunicating other bishops? How long would it be before bishops start sending missionary priests into other schismatic bishops’ dioceses? If the pope fails to act, he becomes irrelevant. If he is too weak to confront the schismatics, then his authority becomes just as useless as his will (or lack thereof). In the case of a rival German Catholic Church, the pope must find his backbone and act, or else his papacy becomes rather meaningless.
In a sense, the rise of German Catholicism may be a blessing in disguise. We now have a central umbrella organization for all liberal, modernist and heretical Catholics to gather under. In the months and years ahead, we can begin attaching the moniker of “German Catholic” to everything liberal, modernist and heretical in the Church. For example; when we see a “Catholic” article that argues in favor of homosexuality, we can say “that’s German Catholic, not Roman Catholic.” Likewise, when you hear a “Catholic” politician speaking in favor of abortion or same-sex “marriage,” again we can say “that’s German Catholic, not Roman Catholic.” I say let the Germans lead on this. Let the Germans become the leading voice of liberalism, modernism, heresy and schismatic acts. By all means, let them lead! They did it in the 16th century, so let them do it again! They’re good at it! They have experience! This may be more of a blessing than a curse. At least we’ll soon have a geographical location, and an episcopal body, to attach all this goofiness in the Church to. Let’s use it to our advantage and make our fellow Catholics choose between Germany and Rome. We may find that our neighbors are far more decisive than the current pope is. That’s an unfortunate circumstance for the papacy, but not a permanent one.
Shane Schaetzel is an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism and was trained as a catechist through the University of Dayton – a Catholic Marianist Institution. Shane’s articles have been featured on LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, The Remnant Newspaper, Forward in Christ, and Catholic Online. Shane is an author of Catholic books, which can be read here.