As part of the project "Synodal Path – Perspectives of members of the Catholic Church worldwide", the Institut für Weltkirche und Mission (Institute for Global Church and Mission, IWM) conducted an empirical study together with the Katholischer Akademischer Ausländer-Dienst (Catholic Academic Exchange Service, KAAD). It was co-financed by the German Bishops' Conference. The survey was addressed to Catholics from different local churches worldwide and focused on the topics of the German reform debate. Viewed from the perspective of other global church contexts, these topics could be classified in terms of their relevance at the various levels of church life and analysed in terms of their significance. It was also possible to find out which topics Catholics in other cultural, political, economic and religious contexts attach relevance to and what weighting they give to them.
The study discusses the four main themes of the Synodal Path in Germany: Power and separation of powers in the church, Priestly existence today, Women in ministries and offices in the Church, Life in successful relationships.
In summary, it is noted that the participants approve the concern to strengthen the role and influence of the laity in the church in order to achieve a better distribution of power. The common participation in the mission and the thereof resulting positive influence on the proclamation of the Gospel receives clear approval and with 62.9 % even the highest value of the entire survey.
With regard to celibacy and the way priests live today, however, there are ambivalent opinions. The fact that diocesan priests will be able to decide for themselves on their way of life in the future gets an overall approval of 43.6 %.
The role of women in the parishes is obviously well evaluated. Nevertheless, the interviewees express ambivalent opinions about the influence women actually have in their congregations and parishes. The idea of admitting women to ordained ministries seems controversial: While 41.7% of interviewees agree, the standard deviation shows a large difference between their opinions.
Finally, most interviewees agree that the Church deals intensively with the issue of sexuality. However, their opinions on the Church's current teaching on sexuality, marriage and homosexuality are again rather mixed.
The analysis also shows that there are major differences depending on the region of origin - for example, agreement with the statement "It would be important for lay people to have more influence in the Church and that power is better distributed" is highest among Catholics from Asia. Gender was also a significant variable.
The study is being conducted in two phases: a first quantitative phase (already completed) and a second qualitative phase (still in progress). In the first quantitative phase, scholarship holders and alumni of KAAD, the Albertus Magnus Scholarship Programme (AMP) and the Stipendienwerk Lateinamerika-Deutschland e. V. (Scholarship Agency Latin America-Germany, ICALA) participated in an online survey. The final sample consisted of 599 interviewees from 67 countries. All research participants were able to gain intercultural experience through scholarships in Germany. The significant differences in responses show that despite the relationship with Germany, German positions are not simply reflected. Based on these results, focus groups from the different regions of the world are now being interviewed in the current qualitative phase in order to better capture the regional differences in opinion that have emerged.
The IWM's Annual Conference "Doing Synodality" from 29 to 31 March 2023 will also focus on synodality and intercultural exchange. The results of the preceding study will provide the basis for discussions on the topics of the German Synodal Path in international contexts. Pre-registration is possible at https://bit.ly/DoingSynodality_PreRegistration.