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German Bishops publish guidelines on sharing Communion

A statement published on the website of the German Bishops’ Conference offers pastoral guidance on the matter of sharing the Eucharist in inter-denominational marriages.

The German Bishops' Conference on Wednesday published its proposed guidelines on allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion.

Following a meeting with Pope Francis on 11 June, the President of the Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, said pastoral dialogue and discernment are at the heart of the ecumenical quest for the sharing in the Eucharist in inter-denominational marriages. It was highlighted that the guidelines are conceived as an "aid to orientation" and that "the topic is to be explored in greater detail" in accord with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  

Please find below the Statement by the Permanent Council of the German Bishops’ Conference on “Pastoral guidance on the matter of inter-denominational marriages and sharing in the Eucharist”   

The  Permanent  Council  of  the  German  Bishops’  Conference  addressed  the  discussion  regarding  the  pastoral  guidance  entitled  “Walking  with  Christ – tracing  unity.  Inter-denominational  marriages  and  sharing  in  the  Eucharist”,  adopted   at   the   spring   plenary   assembly   (19–22   February   2018).   Inter- denominational married couples and families are very close to our heart. 

We   would   like   to   emphasise   that   Eucharistic   communion   and   church  fellowship  belong  together.  We  are  concerned  to  provide  spiritual  assistance  for those addressing questions of conscience in individual cases who receive pastoral  care  for  inter-denominational  married  couples  who  have  a  grave spiritual  need  to  receive  the  Eucharist.  They  have  a  very  close  mutual  bond  resulting  from  baptism,  faith  and  the  Sacrament  of  marriage,  and  they  share their entire lives. We as bishops are concerned  here with the question of the Protestant spouse in an inter-denominational marriage receiving communion. 

The President of the German Bishops’ Conference has informed the Permanent  Council of the discussions that took place in Rome. He was able to clarify at a meeting with Pope Francis that 

     •    the letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of 25 May 2018 provides indications and a framework for interpretation, 

     •    the  text  does  not  appear  as  a  document  of  the  Bishops’  Conference,   given that it also relates to a dimension of the Universal Church, and 

     •    the text is within the responsibility of the individual bishops as an aid  to orientation. 

It  is  important  for  us  that  we  are  on  an  ecumenical  quest  to  achieve  a  more  profound  understanding  and  even  greater  unity  among  Christians,  and  we  consider ourselves to be obliged to stride forward in this matter courageously.      

The  topic  is  to  be  explored  in  greater  detail,  in  accord  with  the  letter  of  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We would like to offer the Holy Father and the Roman Curia our assistance in this matter. The opportunity will  arise  to  take  up  this  topic  once  more  at  the  autumn  plenary  assembly  of  the  German Bishops’ Conference in September 2018.

 

Note: The documents concerning this issue are available as download at www.dbk.de

      •     Letter of the (Arch-)Bishops of Köln, Bamberg, Augsburg, Eichstätt, Görlitz, Passau and Regensburg to  several dicasteries from 22 March 2018 

      •     Letter of the President of the German Bishops’  Conference to the (Arch-)Bishops’  of Köln, Bamberg,   Augsburg, Eichstätt, Görlitz, Passau and Regensburg from 4 April 2018 

      •     Letter of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith from 10 April 2018 

      •     Press release of the German Bishops ’ Conference and the Holy See Press office from 3 May 2018 

      •     Letter of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith from 25 May 2018 

      •     Notice of the President of the German Bishops ’ Conference to the Holy Father from 12 June 2018 

      •     Excerpt of the Press conference of the Holy Father on his way from Geneva to Rome on 21 June 2018 

      •     Orientation text “Walking with Christ – tracing unity”. 

The German Bishops’ Conference is an association of the Roman-Catholic bishops of all dioceses in Germany.  It currently has 66 members (as per: June 2018) from the 27 German dioceses. The German Bishops’ Conference  was established to promote joint pastoral tasks, to advise one another, to coordinate the Church’s work, to jointly  adopt  decisions  and  to  maintain  contact  with  other  Bishops’  Conferences.  The  highest  body  of  the  German Bishops’  Conference is the Plenary Assembly of all bishops, at which the bishops regularly meet in spring and autumn for several days.

27 June 2018, 16:23