Editor’s note: see our published interview on Maria 1.0 “The True Mary: German Catholic Women Fight Against Feminism.”
On Wednesday, August 3, we at Maria 1.0 addressed a letter directly to Bishop Georg Bätzing. We turned to him in great concern in his function as chairman of the German Conference of Bishops because many Catholics in our country were horrified and confused by recent statements of Dr. Irme Stetter-Karp, who demanded “that the medical intervention of an abortion should be made possible nationwide.” Dr. Stetter-Karp is the chairwoman of the ZdK (Central Committee of German Catholics) and thus, in purely formal terms, the highest representative of Catholic laity in Germany. Since this topic is of such importance and can by no means be ignored, in our letter to Bishop Bätzing we reserved the right to formulate and publish an open letter, and we invited him to attach his own statement to our text. Not having received an answer by today (August 11) and with Bishop Bätzing apparently continuing to adhere to a cooperation with Dr. Stetter-Karp, we are publishing the following open letter. This letter was sent electronically to several other Bishops’ Conferences, especially to those who already expressed their criticism and concern about the developments in Germany. We will also send the open letter to every German diocesan bishop and to the apostolic nuncio by mail. We are turning to the public in this delicate situation, as the people of God, so that nothing may be hidden, but open before everyone’s eyes. We also have Catholic signatories for the open letter; they come from different regions, are of different ages, men as well as women, and combine the most diverse professions.
German Conference of Bishops
Most Reverend Georg Bätzing, Bishop
Dear Bishop Dr. Bätzing,
Your episcopal motto is “CONGREGA IN UNUM – Gather together.” We, the signatories of this open letter, are writing to you today, however, out of concern for the unity of the Catholic Church in Germany, and that of the German Catholic Church with Rome and the universal Church. We have many reasons for this!
You receive letters on an almost regular basis regarding the condition of the Catholic Church in Germany from concerned bishops and cardinals at home and abroad, even from whole conferences of bishops; there is no lack of repeated admonitions from Rome either. The Holy Father, obviously frustrated and irritated about the state of affairs in the German particular Churches, often asks in interviews why his letter of June 29, 2019 to the Pilgrim People of God in Germany – a letter which he personally took several weeks to write and which he wrote as shepherd, brother, father, and believer in and of a Church that is trying to find its way forward – is finding so little consideration. We would like to ask this question along with him, Your Excellency!
In his letter Pope Francis calls us to a pastoral conversion, which reminds us “that evangelization must be our guiding criterion par excellence, on the basis of which we discern all the steps we are called to take as an ecclesial community. Evangelization is the actual and essential mission of the Church.” And what does the Synodal Way, of which you are the co-chairman, think about this? The request to establish a separate forum on the subject of evangelization was denied. Instead, the Synodal Way agreed in the course of its further consultations to discuss the issue of whether or not the office of the Catholic priest was even necessary at all! Under your leadership, Bishop Bätzing, the Synodal Way threatens to run into an offside trap. According to Pope Francis, “one of the first and greatest temptations in ecclesiastical matters was to believe that the solutions to current and future problems would come only from reforming structures, organizations, and administration, but, in the end, these would not have touched the vital points that actually need attention.”
We believe that matters like the following urgently require your attention, e.g., according to a survey by INSA-Consulere, a market and social research firm in Erfurt, which was commissioned by Idea, a Protestant news agency, and quoted by katholisch.de (April 18, 2019), only 28% of Roman Catholic Christians believe in Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead. According to a PEW Research Center survey, which was also quoted by katholisch.de (August 6, 2019), 70% of Catholics in the USA no longer believe in Jesus Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. The numbers here are probably not better. Under these omens of evaporating faith in our own ranks you are holding discussions with churches of the Reformation on mutual participation in the Eucharist or Holy Communion? No, Bishop Bätzing, we are on the fast track to that “modernized,” woke liberal, politically correct church organism which Pope Francis warned against, stating that it has neither a soul nor the freshness of the Gospel!
We kept silent about all of this for a long time, rubbed our eyes in disbelief as the MHG Study and the abuse of innocent children and youths – which we condemn and want resolved as much as you do! – was utilized as the impetus for an attempt to restructure our Church in such a way that we as Roman Catholic Christians would no longer recognize ourselves as such if it were not for Rome and the universal Church. All of this was orchestrated in turn by the very same handful of German professors of theology who are apparently preparing themselves to replace the episcopal Magisterium. Also please do not believe that we (and individual bishops as well) did not notice the many deliberately placed smaller and larger violations (even by individual bishops) against specific instructions from Rome or the Magisterium. This does not gather together, Your Excellency, it divides!
But now your co-chairwoman of the Synodal Way and president of the ZdK [Central Committee of Catholics], Dr. Irme Stetter-Karp, crossed a red line that forces us to speak out in public. The incident is common knowledge: Dr. Stetter-Karp in her guest article (July 17, 2022) for Christ & Welt [Christian & World], a section of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, with the programmatic title “Right to Life, Right to Self-determination,” called for “a guarantee that the medical intervention of abortion is made possible nationwide.” She further stated: “A statement on how to ensure the offer is pending – which also includes the training of doctors-in-training.” Every believing Catholic considers it a monstrosity that the co-founder of Donum Vitae abuses her position as the highest-ranking lay representative of the Catholic Church and co-president of the Synodal Way in order to lobby for a personal, sociopolitical cause, namely the so-called equitability of the woman’s right to self-determination with the unborn child’s right to life as is propagated by Donum Vitae! On top of that, as a reaction to the immediately ensuing criticism, Dr. Stetter-Karp went even further and declared that, after all, a (governmental) law should be enforced. In this way she clearly shows that she is not even aware of her own irreconcilable conflict of interest that places her in clear contradiction to the current Church doctrine. Bishop Bätzing’s press spokesman, Mr. Matthias Kopp, then reacted with the necessary clarity and made it plain that the ZdK president’s stance put her in conflict with the German Conference of Bishops. His fellow Catholic in the office of bishop, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Maria Renz commented (CNA): “Whoever is and wants to remain Catholic will therefore naturally demand a nationwide offer of various help for pregnant women in conflict situations, but not a nationwide offer of possibilities to get rid of one’s own offspring.”
And now, Your Excellency? While usually never at a loss for a statement on people like the archbishops Bishop Stefan Heße and H.Em. Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki who fell “out of favor” with the DBK last year, in the case of your co-president Stetter-Karp your silence is deafening! Instead, already on July 21, 2022, you again published a joint statement with Dr. Stetter-Karp on the most recent admonishments by the Vatican Secretariat of State. Did we get the correct impression? In view of the continuing German conflict with Rome, do you want to avoid at all costs that the monstrous statements by Dr. Stetter-Karp become a wedge between the DBK and ZdK and thus weaken the Synodal Way? Do you want to go back to business as usual and continue working with a co-president who – since she continues to be intransigent – according to the words of your fellow brother, Auxiliary Bishop Renz, cannot credibly remain Catholic? It is true that your influence on the choice of president of the ZdK is limited, but it is your duty as the president of the German Conference of Bishops to decide whether or not, under these circumstances, you are still prepared to work together with Dr. Stetter-Karp.
To us, the signatories of this letter, the thought would be unbearable that you and Dr. Stetter-Karp might one day travel to Rome together as representatives of the Catholic Church in Germany; or, if it really came to that, that she as co-president of the planned Synodal Council would decide the fate of the “German Catholic Church” along with you. Bishop Bätzing, we ask you and your fellow bishops, all of whom promised at their episcopal consecration that the deposit of faith that was handed down to them from the apostles would be passed on in a pure and unabbreviated condition, to terminate your cooperation with Dr. Stetter-Karp permanently if she is not prepared to publicly recant her position and to return to the teachings of the Church on the protection of unborn children.
Clara Steinbrecher, Leiterin der Initiative Maria 1.0
Dr. Michael F. Feldkamp, Historiker und Publizist, Berlin
Dr. Beate Beckmann-Zöller, freiberufliche Religionsphilosophin
Prof. Dr. Christoph Binninger, Direktor des Bischöflichen Studium Rudolphinum, Regensburg
Dr. Christian Schmidt, Herder-Institut, Marburg
Mathias von Gersdorff, Publizist und Autor
Gisela Geirhos, Verlagsleiterin Media Maria
Dr. Hinrich E. Bues, Publizist und Dozent für christliche Spiritualität und Evangelisation
Kristijan Aufiero, CEO 1000plus/Pro Femina e.v.
Prof. Dr. Manfred Spieker, em. Prof. für christliche Sozialwissenschaften, Universität Osnabrück
Timothy Flanders, Herausgeber von OnePeterFive (1P5)
Prof. Dr. Matthias Amen, Prof. für Betriebswirtschaftslehre, Universität Bielefeld
Prof. Dr. Christian Müller, Wirtschaftswissenschaftler
Felizitas Küble, Leiterin Komm-Mit-Verlag und Christoferuswerk
Prof. Dr. Berthold Wald, em. Prof. für Systematische Philosophie, Theologische Fakultät Paderborn
Schwester M. Margreth, St. Peter-Ording
Prof. Dr. Dr. Elmar Nass, Prof. für Sozialwissenschaften, KHKT Köln
St. Boniface Institute
Schwester Veronika Reincke OCD (Karmelitin), Priorin des Karmels St. Josef, Aufkirchen
Ursula Maria Fehlner, Bundesvorsitzende des Vereins katholischer deutscher Lehrerinnen (VkdL e.V.)
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Klausnitzer, em. Prof. für Fundamentaltheologie
Prof. Dr. Dieter J. Weiß, Historiker, München
Peter Esser, Diplom-Designer
Dr. Ludger Hölscher, Pfarrvikar St. Peter-Ording
Christof T. Zeller-Zellenberg, Investor und Publizist, Wien
Dr. Margarete Strauss, Publizistik mit Schwerpunkt auf Internetapostolat
PD Dr. Stefan Luft, Politikwissenschaftler, Bremen
Prof. Dr. med. Angelo Dell’Aquila, Klinik für Herzchirurgie, Münster
Dr. Joachim Krebs, Botschafter a.D., Düren
This letter was published on the Maria 1.0 website.
Maria 1.0 is an association of German Catholic women who are making public our unity and loyalty to the Catholic Church and the Magisterium in opposition to Maria 2.0 and other Feminist and Liberal movements in the German Church.