07Dec German bishops say pope endorses divorcee Communion plan

Church officials in Germany have defended plans by the country’s bishops’ conference to allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, insisting they have the Pope’s endorsement.

Robert Eberle, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Freiburg: “We already have our own guidelines, and the Pope has now clearly signaled that certain things can be decided locally. “We’re not the only archdiocese seeking helpful solutions to this problem, and we’ve had positive reactions from other dioceses in Germany and abroad, assuring us they already practice what’s written in our guidelines.”

Mr Eberle’s comments followed the disclosure by Bishop Gebhard Furst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart on November 23 that the bishops’ would adopt proposals on reinstating divorced and remarried parishioners as full members of the Church during their plenary in March. In an interview with Catholic News Service, Mr Eberle said “many points” in the Pope’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”) suggested the German Church was “moving in the right way” in its attitude toward remarried Catholics.

Uwe Renz, spokesman in the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, also defended the bishops’ stance. He said he believed the bishops were acting “in the spirit of the Pope’s teaching.” “Our own dialogue process has shown this is a major issue for both lay Catholics and priests,” Mr Renz said. “Pope Francis has called on bishops to exercise a wise and realistic pastoral discernment on such problems, and our bishops want divorced and remarried Catholics to be a full part of the church community, with full rights.”

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reaffirmed in October that Church teaching that prohibits divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving Communion without an annulment.

5 Responses

  1. Shaun the Sheep

    The franciscan pigeons are coming home to roost, whether he meant to release them or not, or even if he wanted them to come back… *shrug*

  2. Nuala O'Driscoll

    What puzzles me is what happens to all the divorced and remarried couples who have been deprived of the Eucharist maybe for years because they were living in mortal sin? Will they be formerly apologized to, officially welcomed back into the Church? Have they been living in mortal sin, will they have to be absolved? Or has the Church’s teaching on this and similar issues, for example the intrinsically evil nature of contraception that excludes married couples from receiving the Eucharist, been wrong? Is the Church itself in grave error by allowing many to die of AIDS because of its intransigence on contraception?

  3. ANdrew

    I have always felt very sorry and ashamed for the way my Church treats those who have been the victim of a marriage which has irretrievably broken down as a consequence of the adulterous behaviour of the other partner. Many of these friends have since married, very happily and securely, and as a family still practive their Christian faith and attend Mass, yet deeply regret that the Church bars them from receiving Holy Communion – after all, they had remained faithful to their marriage. Why should they be penalised? Surely, if what was a mutual, reciprocal and free contract entered into in good faith is damaged by the adulterous action of one of the partners, then surely that marriage contract has been broken. The Church should only penalise the guilty party and not the innocent partner.

  4. John

    Could the church’s thinking on Eucharist possibly all be based on crackpot theology? I was thinking that the congregation (going forward to receive communion) frequently puts me in mind (in spite of their devotion) of people who have experienced (and still experience) a famine.

  5. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    No John, it’s less like crackpot theology and more like careful planning. If it is true, and the planet is on the cusp of a world wide plague of sorts, what better way of administering a dose of vaccine is there than a weekly trot up to the pulpit to receive your proper dose. This world wide plague is certainly a lack of spiritualism and the cure is definitely a belief in something bigger than all of us.