Randy Engel
A defense of Catholic sexual morality & condemnation of the Synodal Way, Part I
Challenging the German Bishops’ Advancement of Sodomy – ‘The Devil’s Congress’
By Randy Engel
February 13, 2023


If there is one lesson that faithful Catholics the world-over need to learn from the more than half-century of the rule of the Robber/Counterfeit Church,[1] aka, the Novus Ordo, is that never, ever, say, “it cannot get worse,” because it always does.

Last year’s pro-homosexual debacle lead by prominent members of the German and Flemish hierarchies under the banner of Pope Francis’ new vision of a Synodal Church via a Synodal Way[2] is a powerful lesson in point.

While there are other continuing recycled controversies associated with the Synodal Movement including a more egalitarian reshaping of the Catholic Church’s hierarchical structures, and the opening up of the “new priesthood” to women, intersex and transgender candidates, there can be no doubt that the sanctification of sodomy is the linchpin that binds together the entire German Synodal doctrinal and morals wrecking apparatus and its crew.

The primary focus of this article is the 28-page German Synodal Forum IV document “ Life in Succeeding Relationships – Living Love in Sexuality and Partnerships,[3] presented by the German Episcopal Conference (Deutsche Bischofskonferenz) and the lay Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) at the IV Plenary Assembly of the Synodal Way held in Frankfurt in 2022.

Together, the two entities form the 230-member German Assembly known as the Synodaler Weg, that is, the Synodal Way. The group is comprised of all the German bishops plus clerical and lay representatives from Catholic religious orders, dioceses, parishes, lay movements, academia, and ecumenical associations that include non-Catholics and non-believers.

The first time I read “Life in Succeeding Relationships,” I felt it impossible not to fall to my knees and kiss the crucifix of my Rosary in tears of reparation. More than six months have gone by, and I still can’t find myself letting go of the report without taking some action. Hence, this two-part series which will review the German document in detail. It will be then followed-up by a classic response from Saint Peter Damian, courtesy of yours truly, who, for the record, is the founder of the League of St. Peter Damian dedicated to the promotion and application of one of this saint’s greatest works, the Book of Gomorrah (1049).[4]

The MHG Study – Prelude to the Synodal Way

“Life in Succeeding Relationships – Living Love in Sexuality and Partnerships,” which received world-wide publicity in the fall of 2022, was not conceived in a vacuum. It was based on a much earlier German bishops’ study titled “Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests, Deacons and Male Members of Orders in the Domain of the German Bishops’ Conference”[5] and released in 2018.

Known as the MHG Study,[6] [also abbreviated as the MSG Study], this research project was commissioned in 2011 by the German Catholic Conference. It involved all of Germany’s 27 dioceses and took seven troubled years to complete.

The MHG sex abuse report remains critically important because it resulted in the hemorrhaging of hundreds of thousands of German Catholics from the Church when they learned of the extent of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clerics and religious, and the subsequent cover-ups by the German bishops, and disaffiliated themselves from the Church amid calls for radical reforms in the Church.

The MHG report is especially important to this article because it provided the dominant themes that inspired and buttressed the pro-homosexual actions taken by the majority of German bishops, clerics, and lay delegates years later at the 2022 Synodal Way assembly.

The original Director of the interdisciplinary MHG taskforce was Professor Christian Pfeiffer, a Protestant German criminologist, and Director of the Institute for Criminological Research of Lower Saxony (KFN).[7] Pfeiffer ruffled some feathers early on in the game when he admittedly told a general vicars conference that celibacy was at the root of the Church’s clerical sex abuse crisis – a strange claim since clerical sexual offenders are by definition not celibate.

In any case, Pfeiffer and his team did run into some legitimate problems surrounding the accumulation of raw data as they never had access to the German Church’s original case files. Instead, it soon became clear that many of the sex abuse case archives and files from 1945 on, had been radically manipulated, censored, shredded, or otherwise destroyed by diocesan staff on the orders of their bishop. At the time of his employment, Pfeiffer was unaware of the fact that Church rulings permit the destruction of abuse files after a ten-year period making serious research on the offenders and victims almost impossible.

Less than a year later, on December 12, 2012, at a private meeting in Munich under the heretical and pro-homosexual Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s watch,[8] Archdiocesan officials attempted to bribe Pfeiffer to resign with an offer of 120,000 euros, the cost of the study. When Pfeiffer rightly saw this as an attempt to silence him and censor his findings, the powers that be threatened to destroy his name and career. In the end, Pfeiffer left, but not quietly.[9] He was replaced by psychiatrist Prof. Harald Dreßing of the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim.[10] Under the new research contract, the German bishops gained total censorship over the public content of the final MHG Report which was published in 2018.[11]

MHG Summary – Poor Theology and Poor Science

In its introductory statement on methodology, the MHG Report openly admits as to one of its most serious shortcomings:

    All the findings are purely descriptive in nature. Due to the research method that was used, statistical proof of causal relationships between individual phenomena or variables cannot be provided. At best, hypotheses can be generated on the basis of existing findings.[12]

The MHG study covers alleged [not proven] cases of sexual abuse of minors involving 1,670 priests, deacons, and male religious for the period from 1946 to 2014. The figure was deemed “conservative” with probable numbers going much higher. Similarly, the number of child and juvenile victims was recorded as 3,677, another low estimate considering the nature of the crimes.

The majority of the victims, 62.8%, were male, mostly between the ages of 12 and 13, with others fourteen and older. One of the seven sub-projects indicated a homosexual orientation among 72% of the accused clerics.

Consistent with other official Catholic Church sex abuse diocesan studies, the MHG Report uses the term paedophilia, rather than pederasty, to describe the nature of the predominantly homosexual acts performed on adolescent male victims by clerics – a clear indication that the researchers intended to disclaim any connection between homosexuality and the clerical sexual abuse of young boys, which, as we will see, they did in fact, do.[13]

The MHG report also indicates systemic grooming techniques were employed by alleged offenders. These include emotional and psychological blackmail, threat of physical violence, and exploitation of authority. More than 80% percent of the young victims suffered “hands-on” offenses, that is, acts associated with physical contact including anal, vaginal and/or oral penetration.[14]

Church sanctions and penalties against convicted clerical offenders were lenient or non-existent across the board. Admission of guilt and expressions of remorse on the part of the accused were conspicuously absent. In contrast, the majority of victims appeared to have suffered greatly, many for a lifetime.

Laicization and excommunication of clerical offenders was rare under canon law, while the removal and transfer of criminal clerics to other parishes or institutions or dioceses was the common line of action taken by the German bishops.

MHG Technical Recommendations

Among the technical recommendations identified in the MHG study, recommendations common to the many other diocesan and independent reports on clerical sexual abuse this writer has reviewed over the years, is the need for “binding, uniform, transparent and standardized reporting” and long-term recordkeeping of abuse cases including follow-up reports to accompany any transfer of clerics;[15] the establishment and financing of independent professional contact entities for alleged victims; the updating of canon laws and procedures dealing with criminal sexual acts against minors and vulnerable adults; and the promotion of penalties which are commensurate with the gravity of the respective crime.[16]

Thus far, there appeared to be no significant surprises reported in the MHG study when compared to similar large scale clerical abuse studies conducted in Catholic dioceses in other countries including the United States.

It’s not until to the last section of the study dealing with Catholic sexual morals,”[17] that the real fireworks go off.

MHG Study Rejects Catholic Sexual Morality

The opening paragraph of the recommended plans of action to be taken by the Catholic Church to address clerical sex abuse of minors and vulnerable adults reads:

    The results of the study make it clear that the abuse of minors on the part of clerics belonging to the Catholic Church constitutes not only misconduct committed by individuals, but also that attention must be paid to the risk and structural characteristics that are specific to the Catholic Church and which encourage the sexual abuse of minors or make it more difficult to prevent such abuse (bold added).[18]

But what specifically are “the risks and structural characteristics” of the Church that “encourage” and make the prevention of sexual abuse of minors “more difficult”? Let’s see how the creators of the MHG report attempt to square the circle:

According to the MHG study team, “Homosexuality does not constitute a risk factor for sexual abuse.”[19] Following the denial of their own research, they state, “There is an urgent need to reconsider the fundamentally negative attitude of the Catholic Church towards the ordination of homosexual men.”[20] They recommend rather “an open, tolerance-promoting atmosphere”[21] toward advancing openly homosexual candidates to the priesthood. Rebuking the Church for its use of “idiosyncratic terminology,” aka “deeply-rooted homosexual inclination,” the researchers recommend instead the use of modern sexual medicine language and the implementation of sexual science’s findings.[22]

The Roman Catholic Church’ celibacy requirement also takes a hit even though the MHG admits it is not an eo ipso [by itself] contributor to the sexual abuse of minors. Maintaining the sacramental seal of confession in abuse cases is also questioned.[23]

The issue of “clericalism,” defined as “an abuse of power facilitated by the authoritarian – clerical structure of the Catholic Church,”[24] is a main theme of the MHG report especially as it relates to clerical sexual abuse.

According to the MHG recommendations, “A change in clerical power structures requires a fundamental examination of the ordained ministry of the priest and of his understanding of his role vis-à-vis non-ordained persons (emphasis added). … Clericalism denotes a hierarchical-authoritarian system that can lead the priest to adopt an attitude of dominating non-ordained individuals in interactions because he holds a superior position by virtue of his ministry and ordination. Sexual abuse is an extreme manifestation of such dominance.”[25]

That is, the Roman Catholic Church needs to abandon its hierarchical structure in favor of more egalitarian governance because sexually abusive clerics, religious, and bishops use their office to commit unpardonable crimes against minors and other vulnerable people – male and female.

Returning to the Controversial Frankfurt Synodal Assembly

Having reviewed the case of the modernist “ecclesiastical politics”[26] that dominates the German MHG Report, I expect that the reader will better appreciate its decisive role, four years later, in influencing the direction of the IV Synodal Path in Germany and its controversial document, “Life in Succeeding Relationships – Living Love in Sexuality and Partnership”

As noted earlier, the German Catholic Conference of Bishops and the lay Central Committee of German Catholics, aka Synodal Assembly, met in Frankfort for three days, September 8th-10th 2022. The Assembly produced fourteen texts based on the findings of the 2018 MHG sex abuse report that centered upon (1) clerical power (2) the role of women in the Church (3) the priesthood and (4) Catholic sexual morality.[27]

For the reader’s convenience, the texts and quotes from “Life in Succeeding Relationships – Living Love in Sexuality and Partnership” are presented in Calibri font, and the author’s running commentary in standard Roman font.

Preamble – Church Teachings Foster Abuse[28]

It is the contention of the German Synodal Assembly that the centuries-old Catholic Church teachings on “love, sexuality, and partnerships,” have been marred by “rigid moral dictates,” and “merciless attitudes,” which in turn have prompted acts of “sexualized violence in Church institutions, congregations and communities.” According to the Assembly, the brunt of these alleged harsh teachings have been unwed mothers, fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, the divorced and remarried, and contracepting married couples. Horror of horrors, these individuals have been “forced into complete abstinence.”[29]

The Synodal Assembly continues:

    This suffering also includes the countless reprimands to which religion teachers and theologians, Catholic institutions and societies were and are subjected when they try to be critical of the current teachings of the Church. In doing so, we have marginalized people, deeply wounded them, and hindered their developing humanity. Time and again, people’s privacy and decisions of conscience were not respected. We see today that the Church’s sexual ethics also facilitated the crimes of sexual abuse in the Church. We ask forgiveness from the bottom of our hearts from all those who have suffered from the effects of the Church’s sexual teachings.[30]

    As a Synodal Assembly, we see it as our duty to follow up this admission with actions, and to formulate impulses for a reorientation of the Church’s pastoral care.[31]

    The Synodal Assembly is convinced that it will not be possible to reorient pastoral care without re-defining the emphasis of the Church’s sexual teaching to a significant degree. The Synodal Assembly therefore suggests a major re-emphasis in the Church’s doctrine, and considers an urgent need to exist to overcome some of the restrictions in questions of sexuality, for reasons of sexual science as well as theology. In particular, the teaching that sexual intercourse is only ethically legitimate in the context of a lawful marriage, and only with a permanent openness to the transmission of life, has caused a wide rift to open up between the Magisterium and the faithful (emphasis added). This threatens to completely obscure other important accents of God’s Good News which could have a liberating effect on shaping dignified sexuality.…[32]

Section A: Synodal Assembly Cites MHG Study

Having thrown down the gauntlet that challenges every aspect of 2000 years of Catholic sexual morality, the Assembly credits the MHG report with providing the motivations and orientation for its subsequent actions especially the finding that “homosexuality (…) does not constitute a risk factor for sexual abuse,” – a finding which “thus demonstrates the need for a change in Church teaching on partnership and sexuality.[33]

The Assembly, throughout all its deliberations, promotes the constant MHG theme – that of the alleged “irreparable disconnect” between the “lived sexual experiences”[34] of the Catholic laity and the norms of the Church’s teachings on sinful sexual acts including contraception [almost all of which have an abortive mode of action], homosexuality, fornication, masturbation, etc.[35]

According to the Assembly, even those who actively dissent from the Magisterium on sexual matters can “enjoy joyful, liberating relationships” which can be successfully measured by recognizing the dignity of the other person and by a standard of non-violence, to which are added committed friendship, fidelity, respect, mutual tender affirmation, and responsible parenthood.[36] To be rejected are sexual acts and relationships that are “exploitative and violent sexuality” including “forced prostitution, rape and other forms of sexualized violence,” especially the sexual abuse of minors.[37]

Not surprisingly, this section is followed by a lengthy exposition on Biblical Scripture and the primacy of “love” and man’s “inalienable dignity.”[38] “Consensuality on the part of partners in sexuality and partnership is a sine qua non,” the Assembly stresses.[39] “Since children cannot yet consent to sexual acts,” the Assembly states, “Sexual acts before, with and on children are to be evaluated without exception as violence.”[40]

Section B – Preface to Motions

This brief section waxes lyrically on various Novus Ordo themes including (1) Sexuality as a gift and as creative mandate of God; (2) God’s affirmation of the individual [terms like men and women, husband and wife, are rarely used in the text]; (3) God’s unconditional forgiveness; (4) responsible freedom; (5) and the primacy of conscience.[41] Homosexual couples are equated with “married couples” throughout the text.

Motion 1. [Principle 1]

Based upon the above criteria, the first motion of the Assembly is to affirm that:

    Human sexuality is a fundamentally positive life force given by God, and that every individual has the right to sexual “self-determination and self-perception” hence “the fundamental mission of the Church is to respect and honor sexual identity in its diversity across the lifespan – regardless of age or sexual orientation (emphasis added).[42]

    The Church’s Magisterium also acknowledges that homosexuality is an orientation that is not chosen (emphasis added).[43]

Motion 2. [Principle 2]

Since the Assembly writers erroneously claim that homosexuality is biologically determined and that self-perceived sexual orientation must be respected, it logically follows that the report vigorously opposes any form of therapy:

    Both sexual orientation and gender identity are the result of a deeply personal growth process, and it is up to the person concerned to identify it. All forms of discrimination and promotion of its manipulation in a manner not medically indicated, such as via conversion therapies, are therefore prohibited (emphasis added).[44]

The Assembly report states that “human sexuality” is fluid, and “polyvalent” and takes “various forms of expression.”[45] The report is a celebration of “diversity.” It adopts the “Kinseyn Scale,” that classifies sexual orientation on a spectrum from zero to six with zero representing "exclusively heterosexual" and six representing "exclusively homosexual, with asexual, intersex and transgender people sandwiched in between, rather than acknowledging that heterosexuality is the norm for the human species.[46]

The Virtue of Lust

Among its more euphonious insights into human sexuality is the report’s attempt at rehabilitating lust traditionally defined as a disordered desire for, or inordinate enjoyment of, sexual pleasure.[47] Lust, Church tradition tells us, is one of the seven deadly sins. It brings about blindness of mind, which excludes almost entirely the knowledge of spiritual things,”[48] and “darkens the intellect.”[49]

Not always claims the Assembly report:

    Ontogenetically (development of the individual), the lust dimension in conjunction with the experience of human nearness usually forms the first step of a person’s life.[50]

    …One need have no profound knowledge of the human sciences or of sexual medicine in order to know that no dimension of human sexuality must be realized in each expressive sexual act in order to enable the other dimensions to be realized. …For each of the dimensions of sexuality is itself ambivalent: The experience of sexual lust targets the positive experience of one’s own self as well as of the other; but it can also tip over into a narcissistic self-isolation that instrumentalizes another person as a mere object of lust (emphasis added).[51]

Motion 3. [Principle 3] Contraception Justified

    The report hails the “primacy of love” as “polyphonic” in all its sexual expressions and dimensions.[52]

    For example the term, “fertility,” is not limited to the biological transmission of new life via marital intercourse. … Beyond its biological fertility, neighborly love, mediated in the flesh, assumes a social responsibility for the human community as a whole. This assumption of social responsibility can also be based on a conscious decision to use contraception in a certain situation, or in an option against further biological children (emphasis added).[53]

    In this sense, ‘fertility’ is essential for all interpersonal love. It is however disputed whether biological fertility in terms of openness for the transmission of human life – and that in each genital-sexual act – is essential.[54]

    And it is undisputed that each sexual act must respect personal dignity and be characterized by the gift of mutual love and grace, and may of course be performed together with full lust and joy.[55]

    … The unconditional linking of each sexual act to biological fertility constitutes an impermissible absolutization of the reproductive aspect which threatens to level out the qualitative difference between human sexuality and that of animal reproductive behaviour.[56]

Humana Vitae Not Compelling

    The principle of inseparability asserted itself in the teaching of the Catholic Church for the first time in the Encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (1968), where it was referred to as “the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.”(HV 12).[57]

    In any case, the consequences of such a principle are severe: debasement, even delegitimization of all sexual acts which by themselves cannot beget children. This not only concerns sexuality between homosexual individuals… (emphasis added). In this respect, precisely because of its severity, this principle of inseparability is rejected by the majority as a failure to recognize the human significance of human sexuality for each individual, and as an imposition that lacks plausibility.[58]

Readers, I am sure, will not have missed the point the Assembly report is making. Sodomy/anal penetration or “the devil’s congress” as it was known in the Middle Ages, is not a debasement of human sexuality, but the Church’s anti-contraceptive stand is a debasement of the marital act.

Motion 4. [Principle 4]

In still another plug for sodomy, the report states that the social dimension of fertility provides homosexuals with the opportunity to be “fertile” by raising children, in part, an underhanded way of putting the stamp of approval on adoption by male homosexuals and lesbians.[59] No mention is made of the catastrophic moral dimension of commonly used artificial forms of manufacturing babies used by homosexuals, aka, in vitro fertilization and paid sexual surrogates.

Grace-filled Homosexuality

Under the subtitle “The fertility of homosexual partnerships,”[60] the report reiterates its claim that homosexuality is a natural inborn variant of human sexuality. Therefore, homosexual acts can fulfill the same physical expression of personal love experienced by heterosexual couples. The writers of the report question “whether one can seriously demand that a core feature of a person’s identity be frozen, only because it does not fulfil certain normative expectations, without thereby harming that person or any other person.[61] That is to say, homosexuals can harm themselves by not acting out on their special nature in the form of sodomy or other habituated perverted acts.[62]

It follows then that the Assembly again demands the renunciation of conversion therapies:

    These aim to change same-sex desires, and to “cure” homosexuality. They fundamentally presume that homosexuality is a disease. In doing so, they ignore the acknowledgement in the human sciences of homosexuality as a disposition, which is also advocated by the Magisterium.[63]

    [Spiritual] guidance should be provided. It does not aim to carry out therapeutic conversion, but at bringing about acceptance of a self-determined life decision of the individuals receiving spiritual guidance. The pastoral guidance of homosexual faithful should fundamentally aim to positively integrate the sexual orientation into the individual, and not to promote the repression or suppression of the sexual orientation.[64]

    … same-sex relationships should always be unconditionally recognized if they – like any form of sexual relationship – respect the dignity of the individuals concerned and are characterized by heartfelt, enduring love and grace (emphasis added).[65]

Motion 5. [Principle 5]

    The principles and criteria of sexuality lived out in Christianity – respect for self-determination and responsible sexuality, as well as fidelity, permanence, exclusivity and responsibility for one another in relationships – also apply to homosexual people.[66]

The authors of the report then restate that homosexuality does not exclude candidates for the priesthood or religious life and that all attempts at conversion therapies, “are to be strictly rejected and put to a stop.”[67] This pronouncement is followed by further commentaries on “making sexual lust life-giving in its beauty.”[68]

Our Lady of Fatima told Blessed Jacinta that, ““More souls go to Hell because of the sins of the flesh than for any other reason,”[69] but the German bishops and lay assembly members are preaching a different Gospel, about which St. Paul[70] warns us:

    . A highly skeptical attitude towards sexual lust prevailed for a long time which made human sexuality as a whole appear to be an ultimately dangerous, explosive and quickly invasive energy that had to be contained and tamed by means of strict moral and legal norms. Lust, and with it sexuality, are understood less as drive-bound arousal, the exuberant potential of which would have to be relieved by the satisfaction of drives, but as the consummation of a physically-experienceable energy which owes itself to the attraction of Eros, and thus lends expression to the sense of well-being of physically-perceived nearness. The productive elements of human lust – also and especially in the area of sexuality – are now being perceived and taken seriously.[71]

Motion 6. [Principle ] Sex Education and Masturbation

    …It is the task of sex education, as of Christian education and upbringing as a whole, to promote the life-serving and thus mindful and dignified formation of sexual lust over the whole span of human life, to sensitize it for its moments of pleasing, and thus to protect it from trivializing degeneration.[72]

The report put special emphasis on the deprived sexuality of the “disabled”:

    The premise for the emotional-sexual education of disabled persons is inherent in the conviction that their need for love is at least as great as anyone else’s. … People with disabilities too seek authentic relationships in which they can find appreciation and recognition as a person. Sexuality shows itself as the language of physically-mediated appreciation and recognition.[72]

Where is all this heady talk on sex for the disabled (and others) heading? Towards the benefits of self-stimulating sexuality for everyone, of course:

    … It [masturbation] opens up the possibility of discovering and experiencing oneself in physicality, and of experiencing the dimensions of the sexuality of lust, identity and transcendence. This experiential space is significant over the whole lifespan. It is an important gradual development for the psychosexual maturation process in almost every person. Self-stimulating sexuality is not a form of pure self-love, but another important form of human sexuality besides interpersonal relationships. It is each person’s task never to make the pleasurable self-referentiality of human sexuality absolute. It is however an expression of human sexuality on this side of relationships between couples.[74]

Motion 7 (Principle 7)

Since “sexuality lives in and from relationships, including people’s relationship with themselves,” the report states as a matter of principle that:

    Experiencing one’s own body through self-stimulation in a pleasurable way can be an important building block of self-acceptance for everyone. This does not deny the danger inherent in the self-stimulated sexuality of each person: to become encapsulated within oneself, and thus to dry up the richness of relationships with other people as a source of one’s own life.[75]

Marriage and Divorce

The next large section of the German Synodal Assembly report is an extended muddied verbal collage on marriage, and other “committed relationships.” The long discourse on marriage as “relationship” pays little attention to the primary end of marriage, which is the begetting and education of children, but does manage to give considerable space to divorce and remarriage of one spouse to a new “partner” a la Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love):

    Conjugal sexuality is interwoven with ups and downs in the same way as conjugal love as a whole.… The mystery of sacramentality especially reveals its liberating character here: Spouses regard God’s salvific, strengthening nearness not as a promise for the future which they themselves must first earn, but as an encounter which has already taken place and on which they can build.[76]

    God’s promise does not protect even Christian marriages from exhaustion and failure. …This is one reason why an increasing number of marriages are dissolved by civil law. A divorce dissolves the civil bond, and also terminates the partnership (covenant) outwardly.[77]

    … Although, according to current doctrine, this second marriage cannot constitute a sacramental marriage because of the indissolubility of the first, the question nonetheless arises for the Christian faith community as to whether and how the persons concerned can participate in the life of the Church if they so wish. … Pope Francis has taken important steps in this regard towards recognition in his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia – according to the pastoral maxims of “accompanying, discerning, integrating.”[78]…The question remains as to how the Church can enable people in such new partnerships, many of whom experience a longing in terms of their faith, to experience God’s merciful care through His blessing.[79]

The Blessing of Homosexual Partnerships

Having opened the door the door to legitimizing Catholic divorce and remarriage, we get to the long-anticipated bottom line concerning fornicating and cohabiting couples and homosexual partners:

    God’s sustaining strength is promised not only to married couples, but to all people who seek caring, committed relationships (emphasis added). In this respect, they seek to consciously and explicitly place their relationship under God’s promise, and therefore ask for the blessing of the Church. Some consider this very request, which occasionally even leads to a request for a formal marriage, to express esteem for the ‘institution’ of marriage as a covenant for life that is made binding by a formally-concluded bond.[80]

    Acts of blessing for same-sex couples are controversial in the Church. Separate rituals and acts of blessing therefore can and must be found for other forms of cohabitation than marriage – despite the unfavourable judgment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of 15 March 2021. This will not only support loving couples, but also all those relatives and friends who accompany them on their journey through life.[81]

The Assembly report acknowledges that the Roman Catholic Church condemns homosexual deeds [it also condemns lustful thoughts and words, willingly entertained by homosexuals and heterosexuals], and forbids sodomite and lesbian “blessings” as well as “marriage,” but dismisses these puerile objections outright:

    … the Church should not and may not deny to committed partnerships God’s succor as promised in the blessing. God’s succor is said to encompass all relationships – in particular those which, in addition to loving affection and reliable support, are also lived in exclusivity and faithfulness.[82]

Motion 8 (Principle 8)

Though the Assembly report acknowledges that marriage remains the most frequently chosen form of relationships in our society, it repeatedly argues that other forms of partnerships must be accepted:

    Trust in God’s salvific acts does not rule out painful failures. But it does encompass trust in the presence of a God who accompanies the lives of all people through life with His goodness and care, and who surprisingly reveals new chances of success, especially in seemingly hopeless situations.[83]

    Same-sex partnerships seeking to take the risk of an indissoluble life together also draw on such trust. Therefore, they too should be able to see themselves as placed under the blessing of God, expressly granted by the Church, and live from it (emphasis added). This also applies to people who enter into a new partnership after a marriage has failed.[84]

Recalling the Königstein Declaration

As the Assembly report draws to a close, its authors mention, for the first time, the German bishops’ infamous Königsteiner Erklärung (Declaration of Königstein) written in 1968 as a renunciation of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae:

    In the follow-up to the Encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, the “Königstein Declaration” already referred to the conscientious personal decision of spouses to use so-called artificial methods of birth control. It thus follows the tradition of both the Bible and of the Church, which assigns to the conscience of each person the central position of a responsible way of life, and which was again brought to bear by the Second Vatican Council: As the Pastoral Constitution of the most recent Council summarizes the doctrinal tradition of the Church, “Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths.” (Gaudium et spes 16).[85]

    The fact that a conscience-based judgment always binds each person in terms of his or her conduct in life – irrespective of any possible error – is undisputed (emphasis added).[86]

    … The Second Vatican Council remains within the doctrinal tradition of the Church when it holds to another path of the discerning of conscience: The Council considers the ‘voice of God’ to be audible in conscience: “In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor.” And adds: “In fidelity to conscience, Christians are joined with the rest of men in the search for truth, and for the genuine solution to the numerous problems which arise in the life of individuals from social relationships.” (Gaudium et Spes 16).[87]

    … the Magisterium also guides the faithful in their formation of conscience; but it cannot take its place: “We [the Magisterium] have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.” (AL 37) The Magisterium may rightly expect from all the faithful the Christian obedience owed to the traditions and teachings of the Church – also in questions of moral conduct (cf. can. 212 CIC). But it is never blind obedience that dispenses with its own responsibility for the knowledge of what is morally right and true and takes refuge in the exculpatory arms of an authority. According to the Church’s teaching and to canon law, it is in fact always an obedience “conscious of their own responsibility.” This responsibility consists of “freedom which is obedient to a person’s one’s own insight and conscience.”[88]

Motion 9 (Principle 9) The Criteria of Love aka Sex

The Assembly report again repeats the mantra that sexuality, that is “responsible sexuality” is a universal avocation based on the Commandment to love one another. The criteria it gives for truly authentic and successful loving relationships includes (1) free consent) (2) fidelity and exclusivity of genital activity (3) and the absence of exploitive behavior, sexual violence (especially against minors) and all forms of humiliation.[89]

Ironically, the report uses the writings of St. Paul to indemnify all forms of sexual depravity that the Apostle repeatedly condemns, most especially sodomy.[90]

    The Pauline “freedom from the law” implies the promise that, with the experience of God’s salvific and liberating nearness ‘behind us,’ it is possible again and again to take the risk of life-embracing love without having to despair of one’s own or the other’s weaknesses and mistakes. And that is indeed directly liberating: accepting the reality of one’s own existence – including its potential for salvific change – without being crushed and oppressed by the romanticisation of an ideality.[91]

Motion 10 (Principle 10) The Successful Life

The Synodal Assembly report ends with “a call to holiness”:

    Holiness and perfection are part of a common growth process, initiated by God Himself (cf. Eph 5:27). Holiness stands for the promise of growing steadily in a successful life, with the experience of God’s salvific presence, until it reaches flawless heavenly perfection through the mercy of God’s choosing and redeeming.

    The freedom for which Christ has set us free (Gal 5:1) is freedom from the compulsion to assert ourselves towards others through egoistic self-centeredness, or to justify ourselves before God through a seemingly flawless, outwardly law-abiding lifestyle.

    It is freedom to be able to engage in the ventures of love and committed partnerships, as well as in responsible sexuality (emphasis added).

    … we can and must carefully respect the realities of people’s lives today and hold out to them, in the midst of their concrete circumstances, the promise of a successful and abundant life – including sexuality that takes as its standard the God-given dignity and uniqueness of each individual person.[92]

A Revolution in the Making

The above Forum IV text on the “renewal” and “reform” of Catholic sexual morality was presented to the Synodal Way membership on September 8, 2022, the first day of the meeting, as Germany’s contribution to the worldwide synodal process initiated by Pope Francis. According to the German Catholic news agency KNA, all proposals were formulated for the pope’s consideration and not as independent dogmatic changes by the German church.”[93]

When the prepared text came up for a vote, a minority of bishops, some representing the Forum of German Catholics, the conservative organized opposition group to the Synodal Way, managed to block its adoption with a vote of 27 against and 33 for, not enough to meet the required episcopal two-thirds majority.[94] There were cries and the gnashing of teeth from the pro-homosexual majority of bishops and laity some of whom departed from the bitter and extended debate that followed the vote. The KNA reported that the conservative bishops and laity made a second more “nuanced” appeal in the course of which some opinions apparently change. But whose opinions changed and in what direction?

KNA doesn’t tell us, although the news agency does report that after moderator Bishop Georg Bätzing, President of the German Episcopal Conference bishops’ conference, secured a measure that provided for a 20-minute consultation behind closed doors before each “sensitive vote’ by the attending bishops, there were no further attempts at blocking any votes by any bishop even though debates still occurred during the plenary sessions.[95] Which I guess answers my question.

During the next two days of debate, the “reform” aka “change doctrine” -minded members of the German hierarchy including Bishop Bätzing of Limburg and big-hitter Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, continued to press the Assembly agenda forward on the grounds that the pope wanted a “synodal Church,” and that the German Church was simply following his lead.[96] Some bishops said they would implement pro-sodomite measures in their own dioceses including blessings for homosexual couples, male and female, and employing homosexuals in services of the Church.

Gregor Podschun, lay chairman of the Federation of German Catholic Youth, argued that the church owed it to the victims of clerical sexual abuse to change its doctrine and structure in such a way that these crimes could no longer happen.[97]

In wrapping up the Synodal Way, co-President Irme Stetter-Karp said: “We have achieved a lot, and we are not going to stop here.”[98]

I, for one, am taking Stetter-Karp at her word.

Quo Vadis the German Synodal Way?

The German Synodal Way is due to end with a fifth General Assembly in Frankfurt in March 9-11, 2023 at which time a final vote on the revised and updated Synodal Way documents is expected. The Continental Assemblies deadline for submitting final documents on three reflection questions is March 31, 2023. The feedback from the seven Continental Assemblies on the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS), will be used as the basis for another instrumentum laboris or working document, that will be completed in June 2023 to guide the Synod of Bishops’ discussion.

On October 4-29, 2023, the First Session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will convene in Rome under the title “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.” Pope Francis had extended that deadline to October 2024.

In the meantime the proponents of the German Synodal Path are carrying on smaller local forums on doctrinal changes in sexual morality, the need for a new more secularized priesthood, an expansion of women’s roles in the Church including the diaconate and priesthood and the issue of “clericalism,” throughout Germany and its 16 constituent states.

There are also open discussions on canon law revisions and the creation of a permanent Synodal Council made up of bishops and laity to oversee the German Church.

Perhaps, most importantly, there is a call for a Third Vatican Ecumenical Council to implement Synodal Way doctrinal and administrative changes in the Church.

Heaven help us!

Yes, I thought this latter comment would grab your attention.

If so, I hope that you will join me for Part II of this series in which Saint Peter Damian offers an antidote to the German Synodal Path poison designed to obliterate Catholic sexual morality. This remarkable Benedictine provides a truly Catholic response to the challenges posed by the forces of organized perversion inside and outside the Church today.

P.S. In connection with Part II of this series, the League of St. Peter Damian is proud to make available the complete [electronic] footnoted text of Book of Gomorrah as translated by Father Owen J. Blum, O.F.M., as well as Pope St. Leo IX’s accompanying Decree on Sodomy (1049), free of charge to our readers. Send your request to: randyengel@stpeterdamian.com.


[1] See the classic work The Robber Church by Patrick Omlor that should be on every Catholic’s bookshelf. Available from https://store.silviosfarm.com/robber-church-patrick-henry-omlor-1895270200.

[2] For an introduction to a “Synodal Church” and the “Synodal Way” see the Vatican document of the International Theological Commission, SYNODALITY IN THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH issued in 2018 at Synodality in the life and mission of the Church (2 March 2018) (vatican.va). During its 9th Quinquennium, the International Theological Commission undertook a study of synodality in the life and mission of the Church. The work was carried out by a specific sub-committee, whose president was Mgr. Mario Angel Flores Ramos… General discussions on this theme took place during the meetings of the sub-committee and during the Plenary Sessions of the Commission itself, held between 2014 and 2017. The present text was approved by the majority of the members of the Commission during its 2017 Plenary Session, by means of a written vote. It was later approved by the President, His Eminence Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria S.J., Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who authorized its publication on 2nd March 2018, after receiving a favorable response from Pope Francis. The following paragraphs taken from the ITC document summarizes the essence of “Synodality” which was in the past limited to members of the hierarchy, but has now been expanded to include the “People of God,” as well as the “People of No God,” or just “People” including non-Catholics, atheists, and heretics.

    3.4.2 The Synod of Bishops

    99. The Synod of Bishops, instituted by Blessed Paul VI as a permanent synodal structure, is one of the most precious legacies of Vatican II. The Bishops who compose it represent the whole Catholic episcopacy, so that the Synod of Bishops is evidence of the participation of the College of Bishops, in hierarchical communion with the Pope, in care for the universal Church. It is called to be an "expression of episcopal collegiality within an entirely synodal Church."

    100. Every synodal assembly evolves in successive phases: preparation, celebration, and implementation. The history of the Church bears witness to the importance of the process of consultation, which aims to receive the opinions of Pastors and the faithful. Pope Francis has suggested a line of approach to achieve this: to listen more broadly and more attentively to the senses fidei of the People of God by putting in place procedures of consultation on the level of local Churches, in such a way that the Synod of Bishops can "be the point of convergence of this listening process conducted at every level of the Church’s life.”

    Through the process of consulting the People of God, the ecclesial representation of the Bishops and the presidency of the Bishop of Rome, the Synod of Bishops is a privileged structure for implementing and promoting synodality at every level of the Church. Through consultation the synodal process has its point of departure in the People of God and, through the phase of enculturated implementation, it has its point of arrival there, too.

[3] See 18_6.1_SV-II-ENG_Synodalforum-IV-Grundtext-Lesung.pdf (synodalerweg.de). Note that the document uses as its foundational text for discussion and approval an earlier draft passed at the Second Synodal Assembly held from September 30th to October 2nd 2021.

[4] The Letters of Peter Damian Letters 31-60, translated by Owen J. Blum, O.F.M., The Fathers of the Church, Mediaeval Continuation, Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 3-53.

[5] “Expeller Missbrauch an Minderjährigen lurch katholische Priester, Diakone und Mannlicher Ordensangehörige im Bereich der Deutsch Bischofskonferenz.” Only a summary of the report, (Version 13), was ever made public. It was released on August 13, 2019.

[6] An unofficial 17-page summary translation of the MHG Study is available at MHG Studie (dbk.de).

[7] Prof. Dr. Christian Pfeiffer – KFN

[8] Cardinal Reinhard Marx teaches a New Gospel on Catholic doctrine and morals. “Homosexuality is not a sin. It corresponds to a Christian attitude when two people, regardless of gender, stand up for each other, in joy and sorrow,” he states. In March 2022, he celebrated Mass in honor of the 20th anniversary of “queer services” in Munich. Marx has admitted to having blessed homosexual couples. He has publicly called for a change in Catholic teachings on sodomy. Marx’s Munich diocese financed a separate sex abuse study in 2010, but the results were kept secret except for an 8-page summary report stating the study’s research methods and some general observations. See Cardinal Marx calls for change in church teaching on homosexuality, admits to blessing same-sex couples | America Magazine.

[9] See Former head of German sex abuse study claims bishop threatened and tried to silence him – LifeSite (lifesitenews.com).

[10] To his credit, Dr. Dreßing was critical of the cover-up tactics of the German bishops, and the fact that none of the offenders resigned their posts in the light of evidence against them. He also noted that the clerical sex abuse issue is far from over in the Catholic Church.

[11] Pfeiffer was in possession of the May 7, 2012, letter from Cardinal Marx’s Munich diocese that laid out new conditions for the research project including final censorship.

[12] MHG Studie (dbk.de), p. 4.

[13] The terms paedophilia and pederasty have a different history and etiology. The former was introduced into medical and psychiatric literature in 1912, so it is of a fairly recent vintage. It describes the condition in which a (usually) heterosexual adult male is sexually attracted to young children, usually of the opposite sex, while pederasty, derived from the ancient Greek word paiderastes, literally means a lover of boys. Until the late 1960s, Vatican documents involving the criminal attack of a cleric upon an adolescent youth employed the term pederasty. While there are common overlapping traits to be found among both categories of sex offenders – both are emotionally immature, narcissistic, and highly compartmentalized individuals, that’s where the commonality ends. The pederast is a different breed of sexual offender: He has no real emotional attachment to his victim; he has many more victims; and his victims are male youths which introduces another level of sexual deviancy; but most importantly, the homosexual offender performs the same violent and orgasmic forms of sexual abuse including fellatio and sodomy on his young victims as he does on his adult homosexual partners. All clerical sexual abuse of minors reports including the MHG study bears this out. For additional insights into the difference between paedophilia and pederasty see https://akacatholic.com/fallen-order-homosexual-pederasty-in-the-roman-catholic-church-part-i/ and Pederasty and Paedophilia – What’s the Difference? And What Difference Does It Make? – Part II – AKA Catholic.

[14] MHG Report, p. 7.

[15] Ibid., p. 14.

[16] Ibid., pp. 14-15.

[17] Ibid., 14.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid., p.15

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid., p. 16.

[24] Ibid., See https://traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/f219_Dialogue_122.htm.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Among the most vocal critics of the MHG Report was Father Dominikus Kraschl, a Franciscan professor of philosophy in Switzerland who called into question the “founding myth” of the German synodal path. Kraschl’s criticism anticipates that of this writer. He states that the study denies valid scientific statistical proof; he asks why the Church’s immemorial teachings should be shunted aside for “modern sexual medicine”; and he charges that the study was driven by “ecclesiastical politics.” See Priest criticizes German bishops for using ‘amateurish’ abuse study as basis for ‘synodal path’ – LifeSite (lifesitenews.com).

[27] The 31-page “Women in Ministries” text lauds genderless-based ministries opening the Catholic priesthood and religious life to intersex and transgender persons. The 20-page text “Priestly Existence Today,” which highlights the MHG Report findings calls for programs to develop the priest’s personality, and for an inclusive priestly ministry and “truly inculturated” into contemporary society. See What do the German synodal way’s documents actually say? – BishopAccountability.org (bishop-accountability.org).

[28] Preamble, Presentation of Synodal Forum IV “Life in Succeeding Relationships – Living love in sexuality and partnership” based on the First Reading at the Second Synodal Assembly (30 September – 2 October 2021). Full text available at 18_6.1_SV-II-ENG_Synodalforum-IV-Grundtext-Lesung.pdf (synodalerweg.de)

[29] Ibid. pp. 1-2.

[30] Ibid. p.2.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid., p.3.

[34] A favorite ploy of the Homosexual Collective, the “lived experience” argument was condemned as a Modernist heresy by Saint Pius X in Pascendi Dominici Gregis on the doctrine of the Modernists (September 8, 1907): “…If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men should be drawn to the faith only by their personal internal experience or by private inspiration, let him be anathema” (De Fide can.3).

[35] “Life in Succeeding Relationships,” p. 3.

[36] Ibid., pp. 3-5.

[37] Ibid., p.5.

[38] Ibid., pp. 6-8.

[39] Ibid., p.7.

[40] Ibid., p.8.

[41] Ibid., pp. 8-10.

[42] Ibid., p. 10.

[43] Ibid., p. 11. The Assembly states that the vice of homosexuality is innate, and that the Church’s Magisterium supports its position. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 1986 document “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons” does not support this erroneous position. The 1975 document Persona Humana [Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics], Section 8, however, does refer to homosexuals “who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.” This mischievous and false statement opened the door for the unscientific and unproven argument that homosexuals are “born that way.”

[44] Ibid., p. 12.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Catechism of the Catholic Church 2351.

[48] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II, IIae 15.3.

[49] St. Paul, Romans 1:18.

[50] “Life in Succeeding Relationships,” p.12.

[51] Ibid., p. 13.

[52] Ibid., p. 14.

[53] Ibid., p. 15.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Ibid., p. 16. The Assembly report gives so-called “natural family planning” a back-handed slap in the face when it suggests that it can “dramatically increase the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the risk of killing human life through abortion.” See p.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid., pp. 16-17.

[59] Ibid. 17.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid., p. 18.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid., p. 19.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Ibid.

[69] MAY 13: OUR LADY OF FATIMA MESSAGE (7): “NO” TO IMPURITY. – Catholics Striving For Holiness

[70] Galatians 1:8.

[71] “Life in Succeeding Relationships,” p.19.

[72] Ibid., pp. 19-20.

[73] Ibid., p. 20

[74] Ibid.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid., p. 22.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid., pp. 22-23.

[80] Ibid., p. 23.

[81] Ibid.

[82] Ibid.

[83] Ibid., p. 24

[84] Ibid.

[85] Ibid., See ‘Humanae Vitae’ and Catholicism in Germany| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com).

[86] “Life in Succeeding Relationships,” p. 24.

[87] Ibid.

[88] See Gerhard L. Müller: Was ist kirchlicher Gehorsam? Zur Ausübung von Autorität in der Kirche. In: Cath 44 (1990), 26-48. 28.

[89] “Life in Succeeding Relationships,” p. 25.

[90] Ibid., p. 26.

9[1] Ibid

[92] Ibid., p. 27.

[93] Germany's 4th Synodal Path Meeting Ends with Reform Resolutions – The Southern Cross (scross.co.za).

[94] Ibid., Note: The voting structure of the Synodal Way is obviously different from traditional formal Catholic Church synods in which only bishops participate. It permits both bishops and lay members to vote and be represented in equal numbers. However, church law does not allow laypeople to impose a decision on a bishop, thus, the Synod Way decisions are, at most, recommendations for the bishops who must decides for themselves whether and how to implement the group’s recommendations in their own dioceses. Synodal member, Dr. Juliane Eckstein, insisted the decisions of the Assembly are not “legally” binding, but are “morally” binding on members.

[95] Ibid.

[96] Ibid.

[97] Ibid.

[98] Ibid.

© Randy Engel


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Randy Engel

Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters, began her journalistic career shortly after her graduation from the University of New York at Cortland, in 1961. A specialist in Vietnamese history and folklore, in 1963, she became the editor of The Vietnam Journal, the official publication of the Vietnam Refugee and Information Services, a national relief program in South Vietnam for war refugees and orphans based in Dayton, Ohio... (more)


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