A German Catholic laywoman’s open letter to Pope about intercommunion disaster
September 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Last week, a German laywoman who wishes to remain anonymous due to the pressures in Germany sent a letter to Pope Francis expressing her anguish over the continuous disrespect that is shown to the Most Blessed Sacrament in the Eucharist in many instances in Germany. She names events where Catholic priests, without being corrected, signed a text with Protestant ministers, inviting each other and the parishioners to share the Protestant last supper and the Catholic Eucharist.
Now, in light of the recent papally approved publication of a highly controversial document by the German Bishops' Conference concerning Communion for Protestant spouses, she asks the Pope to correct these errors and to become “a powerful voice.” The Catholic laywoman tells us that “we must never profane the mystery of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Resurrection and His permanent Real Presence in the consecrated host and reduce it to a time-limited worldly thing,” sharing the Holy Eucharist with others “like bread.” She reminds Pope Francis that he should “tend the sheep” and be “concerned with the salvation of souls.” “If the Church, and you as Pope,” she continues, “do not radiate a reliable authority, because you relativize essential notions such as truth, sin, and judgment, and because you leave it up to the decision of the individual conscience to assess those notions, the credibility of the Church is gone.”
This courageous laywoman also refers back to an open letter to Pope Francis concerning the question of Communion for the “remarried” divorcees that I myself once wrote, at the end of 2014. Pope Francis therefore cannot claim that there were no Catholic laywomen who cried out to him for help, also not in light of the current abuse crisis where more than 30,000 Catholic women now call upon him to answer the questions that have been raised by the Viganò report.
Below is the official English text of the letter as sent to Pope Francis by this Catholic laywoman.
Letter of a Concerned German Catholic Woman to Pope Francis
On 27 June, the so-called “orientation aid” for the German Bishops' Conference concerning “confessionally mixed marriages and a sharing in the Eucharist” was published, after you had let it be known, through Cardinal Reinhard Marx, that you agreed with the publishing of it. Subsequently, several German dioceses have already announced that they wish to implement this “orientation aid,” that is to say, to admit, on a regular basis, individual Protestant spouses to Holy Communion.
At the beginning of May, there took place in a Catholic Church in my home country a Protestant last supper service, where all baptized persons of both confessions were invited to the table.
I realized with pain that one has turned the mystery of our Catholic faith into an open secret which is not anymore a secret and which one simply now shares like a piece of bread.
I have long reflected upon the question as to whether or not I should write this letter. It is a call for help from a practicing Catholic who loves Our Redeemer Jesus Christ, and who receives Him in Holy Communion, and who loyally stands by the Catholic Church.
My letter was inspired by the Open Letter of a concerned American Catholic to the Pope. Maike Hickson, whom I know as a deeply faithful Catholic, published this letter first in 2014. She then saw the dangers and the confusion which would be caused by the then-discussed admission of remarried divorcees to Holy Communion. She called upon you not to undermine the Catholic moral teaching and asked you not to take away from men the orientation which helps them to recognize their own guilt and awakens their contrition, without which there can be no forgiveness granted.
Mrs. Hickson's call for help at that time has not lost any of its actuality. On the contrary, it has been proven right in light of the discussion about Amoris Laetitia and the admission of the remarried divorcees to Holy Communion.
As a German Catholic in the year 2018, I belong to a group of the faithful who feel increasingly insecure, especially because the Catholic Church in Germany, with papal approval, now goes its own ways, at the cost of the catholicity of the one Catholic Church.
What especially pains me is the unprecedentedly careless attitude toward the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, the Holy Eucharist, which has now finally attained its sad peak in the permitted possibility of admitting the Protestant spouses of Catholics to Holy Communion.
I simply cannot understand that you as Pope also so obviously ignore in this matter any admonishments and questions. That is why I now take the courage to write this letter. It does take courage, in this hostile climate in which those Catholics who are loyal to the Magisterium often have to face much more than a lack of understanding. Yes, I also suffer from the fact that these anguished Catholics do not receive support, of all people, from their own Pope.
Catholics who are still loyal to the one true Catholic Church of Christ – for whom faith and reason are not antonyms, and for whom the Catholic understanding of the Sacraments and of the Church are not up to discussion – are today being systematically marginalized, because they appear to be an obstacle. That this is not at all just a vague feeling of mournful “conservatives,” I have experienced at close hand during a recent homily of the retired Curial Cardinal Walter Kasper in May of this year in Southern Germany. He actively promoted the admission of Protestant spouses to Holy Communion and called these Protestant spouses “fresh cells in the body of the Church of Christ.” Moreover, he suggested that those who are not of his opinion were applying for the Protestants an opposite notion, namely that of a disease-inflicting “bacillus.”
Holy Father, it is good that Our Lord has given us – when installing St. Peter himself and establishing the apostolic succession – God's representative on earth, whom we may call Father and who is our good shepherd who tends Christ's sheep and is concerned with the salvation of their souls and protects them from evil.
From a father, we expect a good example and leadership, meekness, but also strictness, merciful goodness and consistency. But if the Church, and you as Pope, do not radiate a reliable authority, because you relativize essential notions such as truth, sin, and judgment, and because you leave it up to the decision of the individual conscience to assess those notions, the credibility of the Church is gone.
There is only one Truth: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Everything else that denies Revelation, is a contradiction in itself, and is not based on reason. There is no such thing as a relative truth, or many equally valuable truths. If you are the Pope of the indivisible, one, true, Catholic and apostolic Church, then you are it. Period. Not less, but also not more!
Without this truth, there is no discernment of spirits anymore, something which should – as something coming from St. Ignatius' own thought – be important especially to you as a Jesuit. Otherwise, there are always going to be some kind of exceptions from the rule, and sin is then not anymore even to be considered a sin. Each person will now decide in his own “decision of conscience” – which will then have long ceased to exist – whatever he may somewhat feel to be a sin.
Nothing is more merciless than a God who is only merciful, but not also just. It is a treason to souls to reassure them in their belief that God would not judge them.
You as our Pope wish to pronounce God's mercy and you wish to be a merciful shepherd. That is exactly why you may not try to twist the notion of mercy – for the sake of a pastoral approach to man – and thereby to overstretch it in such a way that it bursts. That would be no help for spouses in mixed marriages. Nor would it help true ecumenism. That is to say, when a reasonable attempt at a Protestant-Catholic unity in an ecumenical spirit leads to the fact that Our Lord is not any more sacrificed in the sacrifice of the Mass, but on the altar of ecumenism, then altar and ecumenism will be seen to have feet of clay. Do you, as representative of Christ, take a later responsibility for this disorder before Our Lord?
I experience in my home country how great the confusion already is which your pontificate has caused, and I see to what extent even pastors and bishops believe themselves to be authorized to have a free pass for ecumenical experiments with intercommunion and “eucharistic hospitality.” The last supper service mentioned above is part of this phenomenon, and even those pastors were given freedom to do so, namely those who already in the autumn of 2017 in their own city had created the fact of intercommunion, in public, and who also sealed with their own signatures their openly practiced intercommunion.
A Catholic, however, commits a sin if he receives the bread at a Protestant last supper. A Protestant Christian is committing a sin with the Body of the Lord when he receives the Holy Eucharist without that there then exists an extreme situation of necessity. Were he to feel a real spiritual need for Holy Communion, he may, yes he even must, convert. You may not suggest he could simply opportunistically affirm the Catholic Church's understanding of Church and of the Sacraments so that he could receive Holy Communion.
When a Christian follows Martin Luther and wishes to be a Protestant, he is joined, as a Christian, somewhat with the Catholic Christians through their common profession of their faith in Jesus Christ. The Catholic things, however, are not for him that which is alone sanctifying; a community of faith does not mean for him ecclesial community. Especially as a German Catholic, I am very attentive to it. It is sufficient to read the declaration of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), in order to know that the growing protestantization of the Catholic Church in Germany is not at all a fantasy. The demands for an admission of Catholics to the Protestant last supper, for the characterization of dogma as an abstract rule, and the questioning of the notion of sacrifice, of the mentioning of Mary and of the Saints, and also of the Eucharistic adoration are quite clear.
It is hard to have to watch how you as the Holy Father seem to promote the destruction of Holy Mother Church from within. It is difficult, in the face of all that is happening, not to be thrown, as a Catholic loyal to the Pope, into a serious moral dilemma, because a despair and a powerless experience – nowhere to be listened to – gives food for such dispiriting thoughts. I must honestly admit that, during these last years, my trust in you as my Pope has more and more disappeared.
It is possible that I will never learn whether or not you will have read this letter and what it might have caused you to reflect upon. Had I not a life of prayer and the confidence which flows from it, this letter would never have been written.
I pray, because I know that HE will not let his Church capsize and that she cannot ultimately be hurt by men's work. I pray for us all that we may not come to despair over it. I pray for you, my Pope, that you remain in the truth.
In the last months, concerning the topic of intercommunion, I have written twice to the Apostolic Nuncio in Berlin, and especially because of the performed Protestant last supper in a Catholic Church. Such actions already go far beyond the admittance of Protestant spouses to Holy Communion. But I always had the impression that people did not carefully read what I wrote, or that they did not try to understand. One obviously regards the increasing Protestantization of the Catholic Church in Germany as a fact, because I was in the first reply referred back to the “clarification” as given by the orientation aid by the German bishops. The answer to my second letter gave a final blow to all hope for support through the Berlin Nuncio. The last answer that I received from the Nuncio concerning reception of the Eucharist and intercommunion was the following:
The Nuncio is aware that many faithful have been rendered confused and insecure by the events and discussions in the recent past. But you yourself surely know that that which is in the world cannot – or only with much difficulty – be again corrected however powerful the word would be.
I yearn that you, the Pope, the representative of Christ on earth, would be this powerful word....
We must never profane the mystery of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Resurrection and His permanent Real Presence in the consecrated host and reduce it to a time-limited worldly thing.
God will be our Judge, and when we shall one day stand before Him, we had better not have been silent when it was about the truth.