This week we’re diving into the world of the Catholic Church’s ambitious reform programme. Pope Francis launched a drive to overhaul the church last year, urging Catholic leaders in each country to hold synods which would consult ordinary, lay believers about the issues they wanted change on. But what happens if the answers coming back from the Catholics in the pews aren’t what the Vatican want to hear?
A row has broken out this summer between the German Catholic Church – which has led one of the most far-reaching and radical synodal programmes – and Rome. German lay Catholics have said they want change on flashpoint issues such as married priests, women’s ordination and blessings for gay unions. But the Vatican has pushed back hard, insisting that the synodal processes were not intended to open up sweeping doctrinal reforms and warning the German path could lead to outright schism in the Catholic Church.