The Roman Catholic Bishops of Germany said today, at the conclusion of their spring meeting in Ingolstadt, that they wish to permit common reception of the Eucharist for varied-confession (konfessionsverschiedenen) marriage partners. The decision was approved “after intensive debate, by a very large majority of the bishops.” It was based upon a paper prepared by the ecumenical and doctrinal commissions of the bishops’ conference.
There is a long history of this being proposed in German-speaking countries, so today’s decision represents something of a breakthrough. Conference president Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich said that the paper approved by the bishop is not a dogmatic document, but rather a help to orientation for pastoral care.
Marx said that the decision is meant to be “a support in order to look at the concrete situation in pastoral conversation and come to a responsible decision on the possibility of reception of Communion by the non-Catholic partner. It is indispensable that the minister discuss the faith of those concerned and to ascertain that both share the Catholic eucharistic teaching.”
The document presumes “that in varied-confession marriages, in individual cases the spiritual hunger for common reception of Communion can be so urgent that it could bring about an endangerment of the marriage and of the faith of the marriage partners not to allow them to satisfy this hunger.”