German Catholic bishops advocating for church reform arrive in Rome
The Bishop of Limburg and President of the German Bishops' Conference, Georg Baetzing, arrives at the Vatican to attend the Ad-limina-visit of members of the German Bishops’ Conference 2022. Johannes Neudecker/dpa
The Bishop of Limburg and President of the German Bishops' Conference, Georg Baetzing, arrives at the Vatican to attend the Ad-limina-visit of members of the German Bishops’ Conference 2022. Johannes Neudecker/dpa

German bishops arrived in Rome on Monday to begin what are expected to be controversial debates with representatives of the Roman Catholic Church on a reform process spurred by German members of the Church.

The one-week working visit will see 63 of the total 67 members of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) speaking to representatives of the Vatican in Rome and report on progress from Germany.

The German reform process, known as the ‘Synodal Path’, which aims to change and modernize the Catholic Church in Germany, is viewed critically in Rome.

Pope Francis, who will also receive the German bishops for a private audience this week, has expressed scepticism about the process on several occasions.

"Listening well to one another, painstakingly arguing and honestly wrestling with one another," are part of the responsibility of members of the Catholic Church bishops, said Georg Bätzing, president of the DBK, in his sermon at the St Peter's Basilica on Monday morning.

"Preserving unity and at the same time enabling conversion and renewal is truly not an easy task for our Church today," Bätzing added.

The Synodal Path of the DBK and the Central Committee of German Catholics, which began in 2019, is a consequence of the abuse scandal within the German Church, in which Church officials stand accused of turning a blind eye to allegations of mistreatment of children by other Church leaders.

It aims at reforms in four areas: the handling of power; Catholic sexual morality; the position of women; and the obligatory celibacy of priests.

The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, arrives at the Vatican to attend the Ad-limina-visit of members of the German Bishops’ Conference 2022. Johannes Neudecker/dpa
The Archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, speaks about the topic of family in a lecture hall during the Ad-limina-visit of members of the German Bishops’ Conference 2022 to the Vatican. Johannes Neudecker/dpa