Pope’s in-flight news conference after WCCC’s Geneva meeting

In an in-flight news conference following his one-day trip to the World Council of Christian Churches (WCCC) meeting last Thursday, Pope Francis touched on several world-headline issues of recent weeks.

One of these concerns a proposal from some German bishops about communion for Protestants married to Catholics; the bishops want to know whether Protestants should be allowed to receive Communion at Mass in special cases.

Francis told reporters requests for communion have to be decided by individual bishops and cannot be decided by a bishops’ conference.

Nor can national guidelines drafted by the German bishops’ conference for allowing communion to such couples be published.

He said this is because the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon Law “and there is the problem.”

The Code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but “provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops’ conference.”

“This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content,” he said.

Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote to the German bishops early this month saying “the Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published.”

Francis told the in-flight reporters the guidelines will have to be studied more.

He said he believed an “illustrative” type of document may need to be made “so that each diocesan bishop could oversee what the Code of Canon Law permits.

There was no “stepping on the brakes,” he said.

Other topics Francis discussed with reporters included:

  • Recent reluctance to take in refugees
  • Human rights’ serious crisis state
  • Dialogue and mediation conflict resolution
  • Youth and the pre-Synod meeting in March


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