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Francis tells German bishops intercommunion isn’t possible

POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE
Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA | I.Media
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Cites faith of the Church and ecumenical progress in rejecting proposal

Pope Francis has answered “no” to a proposal made by some of Germany’s bishops to publish a statement allowing Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive the Eucharist.

The pope, answering through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says that there are various problems with the bishops’ proposal.

Among the issues is the faith of the Church, he said, as well as ecumenical relationships. (See full text below)

Regarding that last point, just today, the Holy Father met with a German Lutheran delegation. Among the things he told them:

— Let us not forget to start from prayer, so that it is not human plans that indicate the way [to unity], but the Holy Spirit: He alone opens the way and enlightens the steps to be taken.

— But we are also called to alleviate together the miseries of the needy and the persecuted. The sufferings of many brothers oppressed because of their faith in Jesus are also a pressing invitation to reach an ever more concrete and visible unity among us. The ecumenism of blood.

— Let us support one another in the journey, also by carrying forward theological dialogue. No ecumenical dialogue can advance if we remain still. We must journey and continue: not with the enthusiasm of running ahead to reach coveted goals, but walking patiently together, under the gaze of God. Some themes – I think of the Church, the Eucharist and the ecclesial ministry – merit precise and well shared reflections.


Here is a translation of the letter to the German bishops, published today by Sandro Magister:

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Prot. N. 212/2018 – 64727

Vatican City
Palace of the Sant’Uffizio

May 25 2018

To His Most Reverend Eminence
Cardinal Reinhard Marx
Archbishop of Munich and Freising
President of the German Episcopal Conference
Kardinal-Faulhaber Str. 7
D-80333 München
Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Your Eminence, Most Illustrious President!

At the end of our fraternal conversation on May 3, 2018 on the document “Mit Christus gehen…” [“Walking with Christ. On the path of unity. Interconfessional marriages and joint participation in the Eucharist. A pastoral guide from the German episcopal conference”]  we determined together that I would inform the Holy Father about the meeting.

Already in our audience of May 11, 2018, I spoke with Pope Francis about our meeting and gave him a summary of the conversation. On May 24, 2018, I again discussed the question with the Holy Father. Following these meetings I would like to bring to your attention the following points, with the explicit approval of the pope.

1. The multiple ecumenical efforts of the German episcopal conference, in a particular way the intense collaboration with the council of the Evangelical Church of Germany, deserve recognition and appreciation. The joint commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 has shown that in recent years and decades a foundation has been found that allows bearing witness together to Jesus Christ, the savior of all men, and working together in an effective and decisive way in many areas of public life. This encourages us to move forward with trust on the road of an ever deeper unity.

2. Our conversation of May 3, 2018, showed that the text of the guide raises a series of problems of noteworthy significance. The Holy Father has therefore reached the conclusion that the document is not ready for publication. The essential reasons for this decision can be summarized as follows:

a. The question of admission to communion for evangelical Christians in interconfessional marriages is an issue that touches on the faith of the Church and has significance for the universal Church.

b. This question has effects on ecumenical relations with other Churches and other ecclesial communities that are not to be underestimated.

c. The issue concerns the law of the Church, above all the interpretation of canon 844 CIC. Since in a few sectors of the Church there are open questions in this regard, the dicasteries of the Holy See concerned have already been instructed to produce a timely clarification of these questions at the level of the universal Church. In particular it appears opportune to leave to the diocesan bishop the judgment on the existence of “grave and urgent necessity.”

3. For the Holy Father it is of great concern that in the German episcopal conference the spirit of episcopal collegiality should remain alive. As Vatican Council II has emphasized, “the Episcopal bodies of today are in a position to render a manifold and fruitful assistance, so that this collegiate feeling may be put into practical application” (Dogmatic Constitution “Lumen Gentium” no. 23).

Bringing this to Your attention, I send You fraternal greetings and wishes of blessing.

Yours in the Lord,

Luis F. Ladaria, S.I.
Titular bishop of Thibica
Prefect

Copied to:

His Most Reverend Eminence
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki
Archbishop of Cologne

His Most Reverend Excellency
Felix Genn
Bishop of Münster

His Most Reverend Excellency
Karl-Heinz Wiesemann
Bishop of Speyer

His Most Reverend Excellency
Rudolf Voderholzer
Bishop of Regensburg

His Most Reverend Excellency
Gerhard Feige
Bishop of Magdeburg

(English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)

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