STUTTGART, Germany (LifeSiteNews) – German bishops gave Holy Communion to a Muslim politician and a Protestant politician during Masses at a “Catholics Day” event in late May.
In a stroke of irony, the biannual event, called Katholikentag, also prohibited the German Federal Association for Life from setting up a stall on its grounds for the first time in its history.
Event organizers reportedly told the pro-life group, “During the examination, the program group could not determine that your organization is clearly Christian,” according to a statement by the association’s president, Alexandra Maria Linder.
Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart gave Holy Communion at the event’s opening Mass to Muhterem Aras, a Muslim German parliamentarian of the environmentalist “Greens” party, CNA Deutsch reported.
The German Catholic news site Kath.net called the incident a “smooth sacrilege from a Catholic point of view.”
A local newspaper, Stuttgarter Nachrichten, reported that as Aras received the Holy Eucharist, the president of the Protestant state synod, Sabine Forth, “kept her distance ‘out of respect for the bishop.’”
Another Protestant politician, the prominent Thomas de Maizière, who served in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet for 12 years, was seen receiving the Eucharist from Bishop Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German bishops’ conference, reported CNA Deutsch.
While intercommunion, the “deliberate administering of Holy Communion … to a baptized person who is not a Catholic” has been proposed and practiced by the German bishops for years, it has been soundly and repeatedly rebuked by high-ranking prelates as “sacrilegious” and a “serious offense before God.”
Cardinal Robert Sarah, former prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, has emphasized that “intercommunion” with Protestants — let alone an attempt at “intercommunion” with Muslims — is impossible.
“Intercommunion is not permitted between Catholics and non-Catholics. You must confess the Catholic faith. A non-Catholic cannot receive Communion. That is very, very clear. It’s not a matter of following your conscience,” the cardinal said in 2015 in response to Pope Francis’ opening to intercommunion in his advice to a Lutheran woman.
CNA reported that a bishop’s spokesperson affirmed the position of the German bishops, that Protestants who have examined themselves and “shar[e] the faith in the presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist” may receive Holy Communion “on a case-by-case basis.”
Bätzing led an ecumenical group that published in 2019 a proposal for Eucharistic meal fellowship” between Catholics and Protestants.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) responded in September 2020 with a critique and letter to Bätzing, writing, “The doctrinal differences are still so important that they currently rule out reciprocal participation in the Lord’s Supper and the Eucharist.”
The administering of Holy Communion to Muslims, which is likewise ruled out by the CDF, is rare enough that it has not sparked public discussion comparable to that of intercommunion between Catholics and Protestants.
In comments on their recent exclusion from Katholikentag, The Federal Association for Life wrote, “With unfounded and outrageous claims, an attempt is being made to silence the serious life rights movement.” As an example of fuel for criticism, they cited a lecture given by their speakers that explained “that billionaires Gates and Soros are among the financiers of the international abortion organizations.”