After the German bishops' ad limina visit to Rome, further conflicts between German Catholics and the Vatican are to be expected.

As the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK), Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, conceded on Saturday at the end of the almost week-long visit of the 62 German bishops, there was a clear dissent on essential theological and canonical questions.

Matthias Rub

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.

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During talks with the representatives of the most important Vatican authorities on Friday, there was even a demand for a de facto halt to the reform process in Germany.

However, this demand was rejected by the reform-loving majority of the DBK delegation.

Bätzing admitted that anti-reform conservative German bishops might feel encouraged by the course of talks in the Vatican.

The DBK's last ad limina visit took place in 2015;

for Bätzing it was the first participation in a regular compulsory visit.

Bätzing summed it up that he was returning to Germany with a feeling of "relief and concern".

He expressed confidence that the different points of view could be discussed in an "open and fraternal" dialogue.

German Catholics are striving to open up the ordained ministry to women

As part of the "Synodal Path" jointly opened by clerics and laypeople at the end of 2019, German Catholics are striving to open up the ordained ministry to women as well the participation of lay people in episcopal elections and other decisions in parishes and dioceses.

On all essential questions of this reform process, the prefects of the relevant Vatican authorities made it clear that the demands contradicted the teaching and canon of the universal church.

Pope Francis also made it clear to the DBK delegation in word and deed that they could not count on his support.

Bätzing said in Rome that blockades, bans or intimidation are no longer possible in the universal church today, and urgently recalled the "impatience of the people of God" in Germany.

With a view to the progress of the "Synodal Path", Bätzing confirmed that the fifth and final synodal assembly would take place in March as planned.

Bätzing assured that plans to create a synodal council made up of laypeople and clerics would also be pushed ahead.

There was also no progress during the ad limina visit on what is probably the most pressing personnel issue in the DBK at the moment.

Bätzing reported that he addressed the Causa Woelki during the audience with Pope Francis on Thursday.

"I made it very clear that the situation in the archdiocese of Cologne is becoming increasingly unbearable, including for the archbishop," said Bätzing.

Woelki had offered the Pope his resignation in early March, but Francis has not decided on the matter.

The pope confirmed his position at the meeting with the German bishops, namely that he himself would decide on the matter, reported Bätzing.

But Francis did not say whether, when and how he would decide.