Bonna locuta est - causa finita non est
Edit: Archbishop Gerhard Mueller just might have stepped too far this time. The media reports are making the German Bishops look terrible, and Canon Lawyer Father Gero Weishaupt, whose work appears here below via kath.net, has devised some canonical solutions for committed German Catholics who feel uncomfortable supporting the many Diocesan initiatives which go against Catholic teaching and practice.
Canon Lawyers: The faithful may file grievances against the Decree of the German Bishops' Conference to the Papal Counsel for Legal Texts --- Document of the DBK is in contradiction to the Vatican's document from 2006.
Rome (kath.net/m) The discouragement of German Catholics about the decree of the German Bishops' Conference has still as big and the debate over it continues -- against some Bishops' wishes. There is confusion at the present with respect to the question, which Vatican dicastery had really "blessed" the document. It is also unclear if Pope Benedict XVI had even signed it.
According to the Bishops Conference the document had been recognized by the Bishops' Congregation. FAZ reports that had there been personal approval by the CDF under the German Archbishop Gerhard Mueller and Pope Benedict, a suggestion, which in any case is not anywhere in the official documents of the DBK. At least the general vaidation by the Pope will be questioned by Vatican observers in Rome, in any case called into question, where Benedict XVI has been a significant critic of the German system.
About the competence for such particular laws there is the legally pertinent apostolic constition "Pastor Bonus" for information. There it says in article 82: "The Congregation deals with matters pertaining to the celebration of particular councils as well as the erection of conferences of bishops and the recognitio of their statutes. It receives the acts of these bodies and, in consultation with the dicasteries concerned, it examines the decrees which require the recognitio of the Apostolic See"
How does that apply to the faithful in Germany? Canon lawyers, who view the conclusions of the DBK critically have given the advice to resist against it. It is recommended to write a registered letter, sending it to the Nunciature in Germany to the Papal Counsel for the Interpretation of Legal Texts (00120 Citta Del Vaticano, Vatican City).
As an alternative it can be sent directly to (this Counsel), and indeed referring to the Apostolic Constitution "Pastor Bonus" where it reads in article 158, the following:
At the request of those interested, this Council determines whether particular laws and general decrees issued by legislators below the level of the supreme authority are in agreement or not with the universal laws of the Church.
As KATH.NET has learned the Papal Counsell for Legal Texts has a great interest in this that the questions will be clarified. If the Counsel has already has already previously been appraised is unclear at the moment. Already in its clarification of 2006, 'ACTUS FORMALIS DEFECTIONIS AB ECCLESIA CATHOLICA" it had clearly laid out the following:
"The apostasy from the Catholic Church must, in order to be validly represented as an actus formalis defectinis ab Ecclesia, also has to be made concrete with respect to the foreseen cited canonical exceptions in: a) an inner conviction, to leave the Catholic Church; b) the following through and outer demonstration of this decision; c) the adoption of a decision against Church authority."
At least point a) is a clear contradiction of the declaration of the German Bishops' Conference. The reason is simple: In Germany the number of Catholics is growing, who are no longer prepared, in their consciences, to transfer Church-tax to Diocese, who clearlt agitate against the Catholic Church's teaching g and discipline with this money in either concealed or open projects or groups. It is patently clear that at least in this group, none of these Catholics wish to leave the Church, but quite the opposite.
Critics on the document of the Bishops are also coming from the worldly media. This is what the "Sudddeutsche" in a commentary last Monday: "The signal from outside is catastrophic however: It doesn't apply to people who are leaving, it's all abut the church finances. It is not applied in the first line n people who are going, who apostatize, the quarrelsome, who have become estranged, for whom the Church stand -- rather it is accounted to secure the institution."
Even Catholic bloggers have shown themselves not afrighted by the document from Bonn and showed some humor. The following joke is circulating: "Hey, did you know who the patron saint of the German Bishops' Conference is? Naturally, St. Mathew, patron saint of tax collectors ;-)"
Das Vatikanschreiben (Write the Vatican) ACTUS FORMALIS DEFECTIONIS AB ECCLESIA CATHOLICA im Wortlaut