Pope Francis reportedly wants the Vatican response to be kept private.
The plan, which was contained in a guide published by the German Episcopal Conference, justified giving Holy Communion to Protestant spouses of Catholics on the grounds that they might otherwise experience “serious spiritual distress.”
Following a request for a review of the material by seven German bishops, the Austrian Catholic news agency Kath.com has reported that the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has rejected the guide, and that that the decision was confirmed by Pope Francis himself. Kath.com’s report has been confirmed by the National Catholic Register’s Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin.
However, the German Episcopal Conference has issued a press release today denying the claim that the guide has been rejected. “Reports stating that the handout (guide) has been rejected in the Vatican by the Holy Father or some dicasteries, are false,” they write.
The press release admits that Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Chairman of the German Episcopal Conference, has been summoned to Rome to speak to Pope Francis about the matter. “Cardinal Marx expressly welcomes this wish of the Holy Father,” states the release.
Although the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin says that his sources confirm the original Kath.com article, he is also reporting that Pope Francis does not want the decision by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to be made public.
“Sources in the Vatican and Germany say that Archbishop Luis Ladaria, the current prefect of the CDF, wrote the letter [rejecting the guide] and that it was given papal approval,” writes Pentin.
Pentin writes that a “high level source in the German Church,” who spoke anonymously, said flatly, “It’s a rejection of the pastoral plan,” and added that there were “no differences between the current Prefect of the CDF, Archbishop Ladaria, and his predecessor, Cardinal Gerhard Müller.”
However, “two senior sources have also confirmed that the Pope wants the letter to remain secret for reasons unknown,” writes Pentin.
The guide, which was approved by more than three fourths of the German bishops in February of this year, sparked condemnations within the German episcopate and abroad, for appearing to compromise the sacramental integrity of the Eucharist, the greatest of all Catholic sacraments.
In addition to the seven German bishops who expressed concern to the Vatican over the guide, Cardinal Gerhard Müller has also roundly condemned it, calling it a “rhetorical trick” that undermines the unity of the faith.
“Christ did not institute the Magisterium in order to initiate processes which lead into confusion,” said Müller.
The guide was also condemned by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller as a “wicked trick,” as well as a “scandal,” and as a “misuse” of Canon 844. Cardinal Francis Arinze, the former Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship, expressed his disagreement as well, as did German Cardinal Paul Cordes.