Pope Puts Intercommunion Decision on German Bishop, Wants Unanimity

Contrary to earlier reports that Pope Francis had approved a decision of the Vatican to reject the proposal of the German Bishops’ Conference to permit non-Catholics in mixed marriages to receive Holy Communion in specific cases, Pope Francis wants the German bishops to find the greatest possible unanimity on the question.

A statement at the website of the German bishops’ conference reads as follows.

Discussion between Members of the German Bishops’ Conference and the Roman Curia
On the Topic “Decision of the Plenary Assembly on the Pastoral Guidelines for Church-Uniting Marriages and Common Participation in the Eucharist”

In its plenary assembly of February 19-22, 2018, the German Bishops’ Conference took up pastoral guidelines titled “Walking with Christ – In the Footsteps of Unity: Church-Uniting [confessionsverbindend] Marriages and Common Participation in the Eucharist.” More than three-fourths of the members of the German Bishops’ Conference voted in favor of the text. A not inconsiderable number of bishops – these were seven diocesan bishops – for various reasons did not consider themselves able to vote in favor. They turned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts. At the request of Pope Francis, talks between some bishops and leading officials of the Holy See were agreed upon.

The following bishops from Germany took place in this meeting on May 3, 2018 at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising and president of the German Bishops’ Conference; Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne; Dr. Felix Genn, Bishop of Münster; Dr. Karl-Heinz Wiesemann, Bishop of Speyer and president of the doctrinal commission of the German Bishops’ Conference; Dr. Rudolf Voderholzer, Bishop of Regensburg and vice-president of the doctrinal commission of the German bishops’ conference; Dr. Gerhard Feige, Bishop of Magdeburg and president of the ecumenical commission of the German Bishops’ Conference; Fr. Hans Langendörfer SJ, secretary of the German Bishops’ Conference. For the Holy See were present: Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria SJ, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promoting Christian Unity; Msgr. Markus Graulich SDB, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interpretation of Legislative Texts; Fr. Hermann Geißler FSO, office head of the Doctrinal Section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The discussion took place in German. Archbishop Ladaria explained that Pope Francis esteems the ecumenical engagement of the German bishops and asks them, in a spirit of ecclesial community, to find the greatest possible unanimity on the guidelines. Various points of view were exchanged in the discussion, including: the relationship between doctrinal questions and pastoral care, its relevance for the universal church, and its juridical dimension. Archbishop Ladaria will report on the substance of the discussion to the Holy Father. The meeting took place in a cordial and fraternal atmosphere.

tr. awr. Note that “möglichst einmütig” generally means “as unanimous as possible” but could also mean “if possible, unanimous.” The statement seems to say that Pope Francis is calling for the greatest possible unanimity rather than, if possible complete unanimity.

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