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27 Catholic scholars ask Pope to stop German church giving Communion to Protestants

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

Update August 30, 2018: Four names have now been added to the list of those who have signed the letter to Pope Francis

August 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Just before the summer recess, on 27 June, the German Bishops' Conference published the highly controversial handout proposing to admit Protestant spouses of Catholics to Holy Communion, without their need to convert to the Catholic Faith. 

This handout was published with the explicit permission by Pope Francis. 

As a consequence, some German bishops immediately started implementing that new handout in their respective dioceses. This sudden publication of the German handout came in spite of the fact that only a few weeks earlier, on 4 June, then-Archbishop Luis Ladaria, with the Pope's approval, had told Cardinal Reinhard Marx not to publish this intercommunion document.

A group of 27 (now 31) international Catholic intellectuals – among them prominent scholars such as Professor Robert Spaemann, Professor Roberto de Mattei, and Professor Josef Seifert, as well as clergymen, journalists and activists – have now signed a text requesting from Pope Francis “that he rescind his previous 12 June affirmative support of the German pastoral guidelines on Communion for Protestant spouses, and that he stop the now officially implemented abuse of the Holy Eucharist in Germany.” 

The signatories explain that the new German practice of admitting Protestant spouses of Catholics to Communion on a regular basis “constitutes a clear breach with Catholic doctrine and discipline”; and they add: “So far, non-Catholic Christians were only permitted, according to can 844§4 CIC, to receive Holy Communion in an exceptional situation of emergency, such as their imminent death, and only if their own respective ministers were not practically available.”

"The risk of a desacralization of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lord Jesus Christ is so great that we see the need to take this public action. Reminding Pope Francis of his utmost duty to confirm his brethren in the Faith and to guard the Catholic Faith in its entirety, we also assure him of our prayers," they write. 

Below is the official English text of the 27 Catholic intellectuals' statement.

***

A Call Upon Pope Francis to Correct the New German Pastoral Guide Concerning Communion for Protestant Spouses

On 12 June, Pope Francis approved and signed, with his initial “F,” a note written by Cardinal Reinhard Marx – the President of the German Bishops' Conference – which sums up an earlier conversation between these two men. The note encourages the publication of the highly controversial 20 February 2018 pastoral handout of the German Bishops' Conference which allows, in some individual cases, Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive on a regular basis Holy Communion, and this without entering the Catholic Church and even without first receiving the Sacrament of Penance.

Subsequent to this 12 June papal support, several German dioceses – among them the Dioceses of Hamburg, Magdeburg, and Paderborn – declared that they will now officially implement these new guidelines in their own dioceses.

This event taking place and spreading now in Germany constitutes a clear breach with Catholic doctrine and discipline. So far, non-Catholic Christians were only permitted, according to can 844§4 CIC, to receive Holy Communion in an exceptional situation of emergency, such as their imminent death, and only if their own respective ministers were not practically available. This, of course, is hardly the case in Germany, with so many Protestant churches spreading throughout the country.

This doctrinal and pastoral novelty pertaining to the reception of the Holy Eucharist has met with much high-ranking resistance within the Church. Cardinal Gerhard Müller strongly opposed the German pastoral proposal, calling the idea of calling a mixed marriage an “emergency situation” a “rhetorical trick.” Cardinal Willem Eijk also expressed his resistance, warned against an apostasy from the truth, and called upon Pope Francis to clarify the matter. Additionally, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller quoted the Code of Canon Law in order to make it clear that Protestant spouses of Catholics may not receive on a regular basis Holy Communion. Cardinal Francis Arinze, Archbishop Charles Chaput, as well as Bishop Athanasius Schneider also added their resisting voices.

It now becomes clear that this new German pastoral move with regard to Communion for Protestant spouses constitutes – in addition to several new pastoral guidelines with regard to the “remarried” divorcees in the wake of Amoris Laetitia – a second serious undermining of the Holy Eucharist, affecting also the Sacrament of Penance which Catholics are bound to receive at least once a year. 

We, the undersigned, therefore herewith request from Pope Francis that he rescind his previous 12 June affirmative support of the German pastoral guidelines on Communion for Protestant spouses, and that he stop the now officially implemented abuse of the Holy Eucharist in Germany. The risk of a desacralization of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lord Jesus Christ is so great that we see the need to take this public action. Reminding Pope Francis of his utmost duty to confirm his brethren in the Faith and to guard the Catholic Faith in its entirety, we also assure him of our prayers.

Signatories:

Names added August 30, 2018

 Fr. Brian Harrison, OS, STD, Associate Professor of Theology (retired), Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, St. Louis, Missouri

Edgardo J. Cruz Ramos, President Una Voce, Puerto Rico

Dr. James P. Lucier, former Staff Director, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee  

Mathias von Gersdorff, author and pro-life and pro-family actvist

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Reed Armstrong, artist (USA)

Father Paolo D'Angona, Diocese of Roermond (Netherlands)

Mercedes Arzú de Wilson, President, Family of the Americas Foundation (USA)

Donna F. Bethell, J.D. (USA)

Dr. Markus Büning, theologian and book author (Germany)

Dr. Robert Hickson, literature and military history scholar (USA)

Dr. Maike Hickson, journalist (USA)

Brian Kelly, editor/writer for catholicism.org website (USA)

Dr Peter A. Kwasniewski, Independent Scholar, Wausau, Wisconsin (USA)

Jürgen Liminski, journalist and book author (Germany)

Pedro Luis Llera, school principal and contributor to the website InfoCathólica (Spain)

Prof. Dr. Roberto de Mattei, Church historian (Italy)

The Reverend Deacon, Eugene McGuirk (USA)

Dr. David Lutz, professor of philosophy (USA)

Father Robert Nortz, Master of Studies, Most Holy Trinity Monastery, Petersham, MA  (USA)

Prof. Dr. Paolo Pasqualucci, philosophy (Italy)

Prof. Dr. Claudio Pierantoni, philosopher (Chile)

Prof. Dr. Josef Seifert, philosopher (Austria)

Dr. Anna Silvas, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow (Australia)

Dr. Stephen Sniegoski, historian (USA)

Prof. Dr. Robert Spaemann, philosopher (Germany)

Harry Stevens, M.S., writer for Regina Magazine (USA)

Dr. Guillaume de Thieulloy, editor of the French blog Le Salon Beige (France)

Marco Tosatti, journalist and book author (Italy)

John-Henry Westen, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of LifeSiteNews (Canada)

Prof. Dr. Hubert Windisch, theologian (Germany) 

Peter Winnemöller, journalist and blogger (Germany)

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