Two prominent Cardinals have called for Germany's Roman Catholic bishops to be put on trial in a church court, for abandoning church doctrine.
It follows a decision of a synod of German bishops to overwhelmingly approve Church blessings of same-sex unions and weddings between divorced and remarried Catholics.
In an interview last week on Catholic television channel, The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), German Cardinal Gerhard Müller and American Cardinal Raymond Burke urged the Vatican to take action.
Cardinal Mueller said he wanted the German bishops who voted to back the blessing of same-sex unions to be held to account:
“There must be a trial and they must be sentenced”, Müller said during the interview. “They must be removed from their office if they are not converting themselves and they are not accepting the Catholic doctrine”.
But member of the German synod Gregor Podschun, who is head of a Catholic youth organization took a different view. Tweeting from the synodical meeting, he said “No other person can determine when I'm Catholic.”
“I want everyone to have equal rights. A God who makes such hatred possible because he wants inequality is unthinkable.”
Roman Catholic commentator and former Anglican Chaplain to the late Queen Elizabeth, Gavin Ashenden, explained to Premier Christian News what he thought was going on:
“Germany is a very free thinking and liberal society and is much more green than the UK. It's been far more hip really. So maybe it's not surprising that they have absorbed secular ideas about sex and romance and essentially this new anthropology.”
Cardinal Burke has publicly clashed with Pope Francis and is seen as a de facto leader of the church's conservative wing. In the EWTN interview, Cardinal Burke urged the use of sanctions against the German bishops, under the Code of Canon Law:
“Whether it’s a departure, heretical teaching and denial of one of the doctrines of the faith, or apostasy in the sense of simply walking away from Christ and from his teaching in the Church to embrace some other form of religion, these are crimes,” Burke said.
According to Gavin Ashenden, it isn’t just German Catholic bishops who are revising church doctrine. He said there was an issue of what he called a lack of faith, across Europe.
“This isn't anything to do with Christianity, actually, it really undermines everything that Christianity stands for. And it's just amazing that so many Christians have fallen for it.”
But for Gregor Podschun, the idea of blessings alone for same-sex couples was insufficient as a concession. “We want marriage for everyone!” he tweeted from the synod.