The following letter was recently sent to Vatican Magazin. Translated from the German by Msgr. Hans Feichtinger and with the author's permission.
Pastor, St. Mary's Church
06886 Wittenberg Germany
Dear Editors of Vatican Magazin in Rome,
I am watching with concern the efforts of Protestantization in our sister Catholic Church, as expressed in “Maria 2.0” and the “Synodal Path.”
I consider the Synodal Path the wrong path because it fosters efforts at making the Catholic Church Protestant. Democratizing a large, national church always means that a populist, minimalist Christianity becomes the ecclesial standard, making the entire church banal and diluting the gospel. During the Third Reich, the consequence of democratizing the Evangelical church in Germany with her synods was that the brown [Nazi] majority at the synods contaminated the entire church with its evil spirit, perverting and finally paralyzing her, so that the Evangelical church in the Third Reich became one big history of betraying the faith. The one shining exception: Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Therefore, please tell the “reformers”:
- Take a look at the Evangelical church in Germany. There you will find everything you are fighting for: women as priests, a synodal constitution, married pastors, feminism. The spiritual and physical state of the Evangelical church, however, is even worse and the consequences of secularization even more devastating than in the Catholic Church.
- If you insist on wanting this different church, you should become Protestant. There, everything you aspire to has been implemented.
- As a Protestant with a Catholic heart and as a pastor in the pulpit of Martin Luther, I would consider Protestantizing the Catholic Church to be a great disaster, because this world needs the Catholic profile of Catholic spirituality with fidelity to the pope, veneration of Mary, and the example of the saints of the church. And the Christian world needs the Catholic identity because it would be a huge loss for Christianity if the Catholic color of faith lost intensity.
Alexander Garth is the pastor at St. Marien in Wittenberg, church of Martin Luther and mother church of the Reformation.
First Things depends on its subscribers and supporters. Join the conversation and make a contribution today.
Click here to make a donation.
Click here to subscribe to First Things.
We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.
Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on firstthings.com.
Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.
Will you give today?