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The danger of schism in the Catholic Church

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The Catholic Church is currently facing a tumultuous period in its history with several areas where a schism could occur.

In Germany, recent times have seen conflict with the bishops and laity however, the president of the bishops’ conference assures that the Germans want to be in communion with Rome. He said they are not trying to “democratise” the local church or to make it similar to the Evangelical Church as even the pope has noted.

“Germany has a great and beautiful Evangelical Church,” the pope said. “I would not want another one that will not be as good as that one.”

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The president of the German Bishops’ Conference assures this is not the case. He acknowledged the specific sacramental and hierarchical characteristics of Catholicism saying “we want to remain so.”

However the decisions made in the local German synod say otherwise. The Vatican fears that the new synodal body to be created will hold power over the country’s own bishops and attempt to make doctrinal changes.

India is another area that is experiencing conflict. Part of the Catholic Church of the Syro-Malabar rite does not want to apply the liturgical reform approved by its own synod.

Pope Francis has been very clear in asking priests and bishops who do not agree with the reform to accept it. But the tension has not diminished.

Supporters of the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunicated in the late 1980s are also at risk of schism.

Archbishop Lefebvre rejected the Second Vatican Council and forced a schism from Rome by ordaining several bishops without the pope’s consent. He died in 1991 but his followers have continued with his vision of the church.

Since then, the Lefebvrians have had several encounters with Rome but never a definitive reunification. The now Archbishop Vigano and the former nuncio to the United States, has close ties to the Lefebvrians and has created a foundation to financially support various traditionalist groups.

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