As the apostolic nuncio to the United States tells the American bishops to get in line with the Holy Father and show they are taking steps to hand on the “Magisterium of Pope Francis” to their flock, ten German dioceses have affirmed their solidarity with the projected ‘Synodal Path’.
So the question arises: what does Francis want? Is he a proponent of centralised authority (as his ‘bombshell’ to the American hierarchy implies?) Or is he sympathetic to regional synodical authority (like that of the German project?)
The answer probably lies in the curious wording of Archbishop Christophe Pierre’s message. The Americans are being encouraged to ‘get alongside’ not the Magisterium of the Catholic Church (as evidenced, for example, by the Catechism); but the Magisterium of Pope Francis (as evidenced by Amoris Laetitia and Laudato Si.) Pierre is stressing the personal authority of Francis and conformity to it.
The Americans, in the view of the Vatican are clearly ‘rigid’, and need to loosen up.
It remains to be seen whether the German, with their aspirations for women priests and same sex marriages, are too pliable, or not flexible enough. With this Pope you can never tell.