Today, 28 of June 2018, the German bishops have published their very controversial pastoral handout which allows Protestant spouses of Catholics, in certain cases, to receive Holy Communion. Since Pope Francis, on 21 June, objected to a national bishops’ conference publishing such an official text, the German bishops now simply declare, as if by a rhetorical trick, that this just-released document is not a document of the German bishops’ conference. The title of the text is: “Walking with Christ – tracing unity. Inter-denominational marriages and sharing in the Eucharist.”

The controversial handout, which can be read here, was approved by the German bishops with a two-thirds majority in February of this year, but its publication was initially held up because of high-ranking opposition both in Germany and in Rome – including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which claimed the pope’s explicit approval in rejecting the initiative.

Curiously, this pastoral handout has no author or no organizational name attached to it. No one, therefore, officially takes responsibility for it.

As the German bishops’ website reports, Cardinal Reinhard Marx – the President of the German bishops’ conference – spoke recently with Pope Francis about the matter, presumably during his 11-13 June meeting with the Council of Nine Cardinals and the Pope. In this conversation with the Pope, Cardinal Marx was able to make it clear that “the text does not appear as a document of the Bishops’ Conference, given that it also relates to a dimension [sic] of the Universal Church.” These are the words of the Permanent Council of the German bishops which had met from 25-26 June in Bonn, and which subsequently decided to publish the text despite opposition. Barring any further objection, it is to be assumed that the seven German opposing bishops (among them Cardinal Rainer Woelki) who had contacted Rome and asked the Vatican for help in this matter have now given up their resistance.
J.B. An Đăng