In an exclusive interview, a top cardinal at the Vatican confirmed Pope Francis’ apprehension about Germany’s “Synodal Way,” telling EWTN that critics have raised “legitimate concerns” about the controversial reassessment of Church teaching on sexual morality and other critical issues.

“I very much hope that the German bishops will not simply defend themselves, but will really enter into a dialogue. Because there are legitimate concerns behind this that have to be taken seriously,” Cardinal Kurt Koch said Thursday.

The Swiss cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, spoke with EWTN’s Vatican Bureau Chief Andreas Thonhauser for EWTN’s “Vaticano” news magazine. The interview will air on Sunday, April 24.

In the same conversation, Koch also discussed the situation in Ukraine, affirming Pope Francis’ view that any religious justification for war is “blasphemy.”

Regarding the Synodal Way, Koch referred to a growing chorus of concerns expressed by Church leaders around the world about their call for radical changes in Church teaching on homosexuality and other issues.

Koch recalled the “fraternal concern” expressed by Polish Catholic bishops, the alarm of the Nordic Bishops’ Conference, as well as the recent “fraternal open letter” signed by four cardinals and 80 bishops warning that the process underway in Germany could undermine the Church’s credibility and even lead to schism.

The Prelate called for a dialogue about “what the Holy Father and the German bishops each understand by the synodal way,” adding that these were two distinct meanings.

“I don’t see them as identical.” For the Pope, synodality is … a spiritual event. That is, he invites us to listen to one another and, in listening to one another, to attend to the Holy Spirit for what he wants to tell us,” Koch explained.

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“In Germany, I have the impression that synodality is about dealing with structures, something that Pope Francis already insisted very forcefully in his “Letter to the People of God” in Germany, that it is not primarily about structures but about spirituality. And secondly, that synodality in general must serve evangelization, as the Pope has now also established in the Apostolic Constitution for the Roman Curia.”

Pope Francis addressed Catholics in Germany directly in a historic 28-page letter in 2019. In it, addressing what he called the “erosion” and “decline of faith” in the country, the Pope called on the faithful to convert, pray and fast – and urged them to proclaim the Gospel.

Proclaiming the faith is the first and proper mission of the Church, and so this should also be the goal of a “synodal journey,” the pontiff urged at the time.

Koch told EWTN that Pope Francis gives the highest priority to this proclamation of the faith.

“Against this background,” the cardinal said, “one must also understand his letter to Germany, which I don’t have the impression was really taken into full consideration.”

(Via CNA) Compiled by Raju Hasmukh