German Bishop: Pope Francis Has Clearly Hinted Support for Intercommunion Proposal

By Edward Pentin at the Nactional Catholic Register:
MAY. 10, 2018

Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg, Germany. (IlSismografo)

A German bishop has said he believes Pope Francis has given a clear nod of approval to the German episcopal conference’s controversial proposal which would allow some Protestant spouses to receive Holy Communion.

Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg told a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), the largest group of lay Catholics in Germany, that the Pope has given “a clear Richtungswink” on the issue. A Richtungswink is a German expression that means “hint about a direction.”

Archbishop Hesse also said at the Tuesday meeting that, in his view, the Pope had made it clear that the bishops’ conference could decide on this question exactly as they had already done, and by the majority vote that was already achieved. The archbishop’s comments were reported in Katholisch.de, the news portal controlled by the German bishops’ conference.

Three-quarters of German bishops voted in February in support of the draft proposal to allow Holy Communion for some Protestant spouses of mixed marriages. The bishops want the proposal published as a “pastoral handout,” but seven German bishops have opposed it, principally arguing that it touches on “the faith and unity of the Church” and so should not be “subject to a vote.”

After representatives of both parties met in Rome last week with Vatican officials, including Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope handed the matter back to the German bishops, asking them to find, “in a spirit of ecclesial communion, a unanimous result, if possible.”

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Archbishop Ladaria’s predecessor, called the statement “very poor” as it contained “no answer to the central, essential question.” It is not possible, he stressed, to be in “sacramental communion without ecclesial communion.”

Cardinal Willem Eijk, the Archbishop of Utrecht, Holland, said the statement was “completely incomprehensible” as the Church’s doctrine and practice is “perfectly clear.” By failing to create clarity, “great confusion is created among the faithful and the unity of the Church is endangered,” he said, adding that he was reminded of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which warns of a “religious deception” that offers man “an apparent solution” at the “price of apostasy from the truth.”

Archbishop Hesse’s comments are being seen by many as an inevitable response from the heterodox wing of the German Church, after the Pope decided not to rule against the proposal.

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8 Responses to German Bishop: Pope Francis Has Clearly Hinted Support for Intercommunion Proposal

  1. So, we have a pope who insults faithful Catholics and believes Protestants should be allowed to receive Communion, in line with the bishops from the country with the wealthiest – by far – Catholic Church.

    Dear God, how did it come to this?

    How long will You allow it to go on?

  2. JabbaPapa says:

    A German bishop has said he believes Pope Francis has given a clear nod of approval to the German episcopal conference’s controversial proposal which would allow some Protestant spouses to receive Holy Communion

    This is nonsense.

    All that the Pope has done so far is to listen to the arguments from all sides.

    Nevertheless, the Doctrine and the Canon Law both do not permit the intercommunion that this Bishops Conference has proposed.

    Second, the permission for Protestant spouses to take Holy Communion at Catholic Mass can only be granted by particular Bishops on a case-by-case basis (unless that Bishop might be the Pope or potentially a Patriarch within his domain) whether this should be for a single Mass associated with an Indulgence, or for a single Mass for a particular reason (for example to acknowledge a degree of Catholicity in the parenthood of a Protestant when the Christian upbringing given has led a child to the Catholic Church, in Confirmation or for Marriage or for the Catholic Baptism of a grandchild, and so on), or for a general permission to a particular individual to take the Holy Communion — and sundry other exceptional circumstances — ALL of which however must have in common a necessity for Sacramental Grace, conditio sine qua non affirmation of Belief of the Real Presence of Christ in Eucharist, and necessarily a sense that the individual in question has not absent a desire for Catholic Faith.

    A good example is my Godfather’s mother, who is Eastern Orthodox, and yet the mother of a good Catholic priest, my Godfather’s brother, and who was married to a very devout and active Catholic gentleman who did a great deal of work in his life for the Conversion of others into the Catholicity of our Religion (though his other son is the one who helped me).

    Having said that, no Bishops Conference has any Authority to establish any such generalised and undiscriminating practices within its national church.

    Monseigneur Hesse can rant on as much as he likes otherwise, there is no heresy per se in his claims & suggestions — it is not heretical to suggest that non-Catholic Christians could take Eucharistic Communion — regardless, the Law and the Canons of past Ecumenical Councils remain, and he is strictly bound by all of these to permit such Communions only in the sort of manner described above.

  3. mmvc says:

    Archbishop Hesse’s comments are being seen by many as an inevitable response from the heterodox wing of the German Church, after the Pope decided not to rule against the proposal.

    Haven’t we been here before? As so often, lack of clear direction is the slippery slope that leads to disorientation and error.

  4. JabbaPapa says:

    mmvc, this is actually a less easy question than might appear at first glance.

    So I’m certainly not suggesting that you’re “wrong” or anything, nor that any of these or those might be “right”.

    A Pope cannot in kneejerk reaction rule against existing Canon Law simply because some ideological Germans might happen one day to turn up on his doorstep, nor can he just suppose that all of the complex rules regarding this VERY longstanding question might be clarified by whim.

  5. mmvc says:

    mmvc, this is actually a less easy question than might appear at first glance.

    Cardinal Ejik:

    The response of the Holy Father, given through the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the delegation of the German Conference, that the Conference should discuss the drafts again and try to achieve a unanimous result, if possible, is completely incomprehensible. The Church’s doctrine and practice regarding the administration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist to Protestants is perfectly clear.

    Cardinal Müller:

    In comments to the Register May 4, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, expressed his disappointment with the outcome, saying the statement was “very poor” as it contained “no answer to the central, essential question.” It is not possible, he stressed, to be in “sacramental communion without ecclesial communion.”

    For the good of the Church, he added, a “clear expression of the Catholic faith” is needed, for the Pope to “affirm the faith,” especially the “pillar of our faith, the Eucharist.” The Pope and the CDF, he went on, are supposed to “give a very clear orientation” not through “personal opinion but according to the revealed faith.”

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/cardinal-mueller-on-intercommunion-meeting-more-clarity-and-courage-needed

  6. JabbaPapa says:

    The response of the Holy Father, given through the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the delegation of the German Conference, that the Conference should discuss the drafts again and try to achieve a unanimous result, if possible, is completely incomprehensible

    It’s actually quite characteristic of the sort of thing the Bishop Bergoglio used to do over in Argentina.

    But think about it — the Pope has basically provided those Bishops having Traditional understanding of the question with personal veto powers against these (shocking) proposals.

    De facto, he’s killed them.

  7. mmvc says:

    De facto, he’s killed them.

    Let’s hope you’re right, Jabba because this article from Gloria TV speaks of a different ‘killing’:

    Francis Kills the One Church – Protestant Communion in Germany

    Pope Francis has asked the German bishops to find “a provision” regarding giving Holy [?] Communion to Protestants, Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx told the German news agency KNA (May 10). There is no legitimate way to introduce such a sacrilege into the Church.

    Marx explains Francis’ course of action with his alleged attitude not “to exercise his power” but to find solutions “together”. In reality, Francis is an autocrat who has little understanding of different opinions.

    Marx believes that the German bishops will find a unanimous solution at their next meeting. In other words, they will all agree [or be forced to agree] to sanction Protestant communion which, as a matter of fact, has been introduced in Germany decades ago.

    https://www.gloria.tv/article/jEevRBWm3wMT4z8JSBVn2JQpB

  8. JabbaPapa says:

    Marx explains Francis’ course of action with his alleged attitude not “to exercise his power” but to find solutions “together”. In reality, Francis is an autocrat who has little understanding of different opinions.

    I think Pope Francis is more simply a Pontiff of the sort that we used to have prior to the election of the excellent Pope John Paul I, and his two immediate successors.

    These three great men have spoiled us to a degree. We were bound to get a less impressive Pope eventually, and so now we have …

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