German archbishop OKs intercommunion in his diocese

German archbishop Hans-Josef Becker will let Protestant spouses of Catholics living in his diocese receive holy communion “in individual cases.”

He presented his interpretation of the German bishops’ conference “pastoral guidance“at a meeting of the Council of Priests of the Archdiocese of Paderborn last week.

He says he told his presbyteral council that the pastoral guidance offers spiritual help for the decision of conscience in individual cases, along with pastoral care.

He also told the council he has “formulated the expectation that all pastors in the archdiocese would familiarise themselves intensively with the guidance document and would act in a spirit of pastoral responsibility.”

Stressing that this expectation does not constitute a “general permission” to receive holy communion, he explained his thinking.

Inter-denominational marriage is “denomination-uniting,” he says.

Through their baptism, their Christian faith and their sacrament of marriage, two Christians in such [Catholic/Protestant] marriages “are united.”

The Protestant spouse in such cases may have a longing and a strong desire to receive the Eucharist and therefore it is “a matter of arriving at a responsible decision of conscience,” Becker says.


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