More fresh hell from beyond the ‘limes’: the Land of Karl Rahner and Walter Kasper and Really Bad Ideas

The ancient Roman historian Tacitus said that the Germans of his day had a strong tendency to folk assembly government, and that big decisions were decided by the whole tribe.  The men of the whole tribe.  Women could speak up and their opinions were heard.

He also said that priests inflicted the punishments.

Germany hasn’t changed much.   They still have a propensity to tribal government – that is, when they haven’t given authority to a murdering nutcase – and priests are still inflicting punishment on the people of God.

What is the latest punishment these priests are cooking up like beery brats in the lardy frying pan?

I mean, of course, the Really Bad Idea that the German Church is going to undertake to have a “binding Synod”.

How bad is this idea?  This idea is so bad that even Francis warned about it!  And he wants a Synodal church. That’s how bad.

CNA got hold of the draft document for this Really Bad Binding German Synod Idea.


The text would create a “Synodal Way of the Catholic Church in Germany” which “aims to address and clarify key issues such as: ‘authority and separation of powers,’ ‘sexual morality,’ ‘the priestly mode of life,’ ‘women at the service of ecclesiastical offices’ over a two-year period.

The Synodal Assembly would be given the authority to pass resolutions in the name of the Church in Germany. The assembly will have up to 200 members, with the largest block, 70, coming from the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK).

German priests, religious, deacons, pastoral workers and other lay groups will also be represented. The 69 bishops who form the German bishops’ conference will be a minority of the membership. Each member – whether a bishop, a priest, or a layperson – will possess a single vote.


Does anyone think that this doesn’t fit, claw in glove, with the machinations of the Germans in the upcoming Amazonian Synod?

Does anyone think that this doesn’t connect to the loony Bishop Franz-Josef Bode’s promotion of homosexuality and Communion for everyone, adulterer or not? He’s, after all, only VP of the Caput Malorum Omnium (aka Germany) Bishops Conference.

Some things don’t change.

Returning to the ancient world for a moment, consider the ongoing influence of the ancient Roman limes.

The limes – not to be confused with what you put into your large and numerous Gins and Tonic after you’ve read about the antics of the Germans – was the boundary between the regions controlled by Rome and, on the other side, those controlled by the barbarians.  The Romans fortified a frontier stretching some 3000 miles from Britain to the Black Sea.  In Germany there were two massive sections along the Rhine and the Danube.  You can visit interesting museums and reconstructions when you travel there today, as I did many years ago when I was studying archaeology and history.

Their impact today?  It is interesting to note that – and this is a useful generalization – on the Roman side, people today still tend to drink wine, cook with olive oil, and the Catholic Church stayed relatively intact.  On the barbarian side, people tend to drink more beer, cook with lard, and the Protestant Revolt took a strong hold.

It still has a strong hold, it seems, and the beery, lardy, revolt is still going on today.

Ubi vinum ibi Ecclesia Romana, as my old pastor used to quip.  The Tyrolean, he, to the Prussian, me.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. AAJD says:

    Forgive the self-promotion but those of us who understand synodality in its proper and traditional sense have been trying to make the case that it never comes as a sly means of undermining, let alone changing, divine and Catholic truth. I did that just today, and here:

  2. Kent Wendler says:

    What is the difference between this and an overt schism?

  3. chantgirl says:

    Jesus makes clear in the gospels that our individual spiritual lives, and even the life of the Church as a whole, is a turf war. He describes the strongman, having been cast out of the soul, as going to find more evil partners and returning to reclaim his territory. In various areas of the world that had been claimed for Christ, we see pre-Christian, pagan spirits reclaiming lands. This can be seen clearly in Europe and the Americas. We see a return of pagan practices in the areas of sexual behavior, worship, and even human sacrifice (abortion, euthanasia).

    I surmise that at certain points in history, even thousands of years ago, sacrifices were made to various pagan gods (demons) and that those sacrifices give those gods a sort of claim on those areas. When missionaries later catechised the peoples and consecrated these lands to Christ, the strongmen were cast out. However, the grave sins of the laity, and especially the clergy, probably invite those strongmen right back, and with reinforcements. Every time a church is closed, or several parishes merge, or a priest dies, we have fewer Masses said, and the enemies of Christ gain ground.

    The wicked spirits understand the power of sacrifice, and Catholics have largely forgotten. Even many priests do not understand the Masses they say to be a potent sacrifice.

    When Christ came to reclaim the earth and the souls of man, He shed His blood. When missionaries came to pagan lands to win souls for Christ, they frequently shed their blood in martyrdom.

    We who live in lands that are post-Christian, have largely not resisted the old strongmen to the point of shedding blood. Likely it is going to take exorcisms of places, Masses, and a new crop of martyrs to reclaim these lands for Christ.

  4. Amerikaner says:

    Unfortunately the tentacles of German ecclesial power reaches far. When I read about the binding synodal process meetings I thought how interesting that the timing was to coincide with the Amazon synod. The Germans have a hand in finances to the Amazon. And also Cardinal Marx was tasked to head up solidifying Vatican finances at the request of the Holy Father.

    Lots of Germans, lots of connections to money, and lots of theological loony-ness.

  5. Mario Bird says:


    South of the Rhine is very fine
    And cultured without peer
    But for all that, I’d trade a vat
    Of wine for German beer.

    And Nietzche was a creature
    All Christian men should fear
    But Catholic men retain a ken
    Of Ratzinger and beer.

    O grape, so stripped and crushed and strained and tanned,
    All sweetness turned inebriating brand,
    And man must drink your dregs in his last stand,
    A little passion closed in stemware fine.

    O wheat and barley, seed made liquid bread,
    Sealed up with hops and yeast as if one dead,
    And weary man feels bubbles in his head,
    A little resurrection in a stein.

    Yes, Old Tyrol is a high soul
    Its superiority is clear,
    And Prussian volk may shuck the yoke
    Of reason with a sneer
    But men from Metz unto Maynooth
    Would plight their faith and very truth
    That God is happy, and the proof
    Is beer, beer, beer, beer, beer!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  6. Hugh says:

    Proof of the limes: a friend motors from Austria to Italy a few years back. On the Austrian side the houses, gardens and roads are meticulously kept. Immediately … and he stressed that … immediately he crosses the border to the Italian side there are chooks freely wandering on the road, washing hanging out do dry in all manner of places, rickety structures badly in need of a coat of paint, etc.

    God has a profound sense of humor, putting such types of humanity up against each other.

  7. Julia_Augusta says:

    I was quite shocked to find that the little square in Innsbruck, Austria, on which the Jesuitenkirche is located, is called . . . Karl-Rahnerplatz! I wonder which Jesuit genius convinced the Innsbruck city council to change the name of this square.

  8. TonyO says:

    Binding, huh?

    According to whose authority? See, if it is the Synod itself that declares that it is binding, then that’s a null theory. A person (natural or juridic) cannot simply declare “I am in charge now”, (Al Haig notwithstanding). He has to have something under him that supports his assertion.

    But there is (so far as I know) nothing in the Church lines of authority that make such a Synod binding, or such a claim of authority, valid. Canon law doesn’t. No one bishop can make it so.
    Perhaps the pope himself could formally DECLARE that “the following Synod is binding”, but then Pope Francis warned against a binding synod so he isn’t likely to lend his weight to it.

    Most likely, they are going to claim that the authority comes from the German Conference of bishops. But it is doubtful that they – as a conference – have the authority to hand off authority like that. See, for some things the proper locus of authority simply is THE BISHOP, the Ordinary of the place, and he might not even be able to hand off that authority. Far less so, then, would a National Conference of bishops, which mostly just about has the authority to wipe its nose with a kleenex, until approved by the bishops of the conference via vote. And to what did the German bishops’ conference vote? To give binding authority to ANYTHING the Synod comes up with? That, indeed, is pretty ridiculous an idea, and I doubt it could be a valid delegation.

    So, the few bishops who know better should be shouting from their balconies “your ‘binding’ is smoke and mirrors, I will not submit my authority”. A few of them probably have a spine, though it might be sitting in a closet somewhere.

  9. Charles E Flynn says:

    Is it sinful to recast in one’s mind the opening scene in Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator”, and imagine the Roman legions as the orthodox Catholics, and the German barbarians as the heterodox German bishops?

  10. Charivari Rob says:

    So… The limes – another name for The Pale?

  11. I want to associate myself with beer and lard.

  12. Cincture says:

    Tony O Re: Binding: I tend to agree as to the Pope not officially confirming anything as to that; rather will be content to allow his little laboratory of heresy to continue to experiment. This, together with that percolating at the Amazon synod, is intended to allow for its own eventual groundswell.
    Those who see this intention are rightly signaling their warning and reproach, further indication of the drawing of doctrinal battle lines.

  13. Mac in Calgary says:

    I got really worried at “Central Committee of German Catholics.” I was born, thankfully in the Free World, in the Fifties and so was almost 40 when the Cold War ended, so I know never to trust anything called the Central Committee.

  14. Andreas says:

    Julia_Augusta wonders, “….which Jesuit genius convinced the Innsbruck city council to change the name of this (Karl-Rahnerplatz) square”. The Jesuits were invited by then Prince Maximillian to establish what was to become the University of Innsbruck where the church and square are located. Karl Rahner was a member of the university’s Faculty of Theology, located in an ensemble of buildings which include the Jesuit Church. Rahner is buried in the crypt of this church. The Platz itself is but a small area of university property encompassed by the School of Theology and the church. To the best of my knowledge, this area did not have a name prior to its being designated as Karl-Rahnerplatz.

  15. teomatteo says:

    Hugh said, “God has a profound sense of humor, putting such types of humanity up against each other.”

    Maybe you havent read: “In heaven the Brits are the police, the French are the cooks, the Germans are the organizers and the Italians are the lovers. In hell, the Brits are the cooks, the French the police, the Germans the lovers and the Italians are the organizers.
    (frz can moderate as he sees fit’n)

  16. Grabski says:

    Are we obligated to give assent to such nonsense? Can we change rites?

  17. Chatto says:

    The wine/beer comments made me think of ‘Ballad of the White Horse’ and the description of Marcus the Roman:

    “His fruit trees stood like soldiers
    All drilled in a straight line,
    His strange, stiff olives did not fail,
    And all the kings of the Earth drank ale,
    But he drank wine.”

  18. Semper Gumby says:

    Well done Mario Bird and Chatto. Mac in Calgary: Good point. Fr. Fox: Bacon-flavored beer…

    Charles E Flynn: Recently a drunk man in I think Scotland entered a cathedral in which a mini-golf course had been installed. During his profanity-laced tirade against this outrage I sincerely hoped he hurled a putter and yelled, “Are you not entertained?!”

    [putter… entertained…. You keep this up and I will use my wizard powers to give you privileged status here.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr.Z: Strength and Honor; the Beacons of Minas Tirith are lit; Ora et labora.

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