In a dramatic turn of events, seven Catholic bishops in Germany have asked the Vatican to intervene against the move of the German bishops’ conference, decided with two-thirds majority, to offer pastoral advice giving the possibility of reception of Holy Communion by non-Catholics in mixed marriages, the Kölner Stadt-Anzieger (“Cologne City Announcer”) reports. (Pray Tell reported on the earlier move by the bishops’ conference here.)
The seven bishops, under the leadership of Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, have written a three-page letter to the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Luis Ladaria, and also the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch.
The letter was sent to the Vatican by the minority of bishops without notification of conference president Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich.
The seven bishops hold that the pastoral provision the conference approved on February 20 is unlawful because it transgresses Catholic doctrine and the unity of the church. They believe that the conference’s action goes beyond its competence, and they ask the Vatican for assistance and clarification.
Bishops signing the letter are Woelki, Archbishop Schick of Bamberg, and Bishops Zdara of Augsburg, Hanke of Eichstätt, Ipolt of Görlitz, Voderholzer of Regensburg, and Oster of Passau. As the Anzieger note, the preponderance of opposition comes from Bavaria, where Cardinal Marx is also president of the Bavarian bishops’ conference.
Cardinal Marx has written a response to the seven minority bishops in which he expresses he surprise at their action. He emphasizes that the pastoral provision is still in draft form and open to further changes. Marx sent his letter today to the Vatican and also all the German bishops.
There are presently 65 bishops in the conference from the 27 dioceses of the German Catholic Church.
Featured image: Cardinals Woelki and Marx.