Vatican officials notify German bishops that they are not empowered to create a proposed legislative body of clergy and laity, known as the 'Synodal Council.'

The letter was signed by three high-ranking Vatican officials, including Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.

The idea of creating a permanent governing body of bishops and laity for the Church in Germany was approved at a meeting of the “synodal way” last September.

The council would also “take fundamental decisions of supra-diocesan significance on pastoral planning, future perspectives and budgetary issues of the Church that are not decided at the level of the dioceses.”

The Vatican weighed in on the idea this month, after five bishops asked the Vatican whether they were obliged to participate in the “synodal committee”.

The Jan. 16 letter said that bishops are not required to participate in the “synodal committee”.

It then explained that the bishops are not empowered to create a governing or decision-making synodal assembly for their country.

The letter cited the Second Vatican Council’s Lumen gentium, which teaches that ordination as a bishop “confers the office of teaching and of governing” in the Church.

The text of the letter was specifically approved by the pope, who ordered that it be sent, the document explained.

It is not clear how other German bishops will respond to the Vatican directive.