New head of German bishops thinks Protestants can receive Catholic Eucharist
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MAINZ, Germany, March 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The newly elected president of the German bishops’ conference, bishop Georg Bätzing, voiced his support for a study arguing in favor of having Christians of any background receive the Eucharist during a Catholic Mass.
The study, titled “Together at the Lord’s Table,” was published in the fall of 2019 by the “Ecumenical working group of Evangelical and Catholic theologians” (“Ökumenischer Arbeitskreis evangelischer und katholischer Theologen”).
The working group, Bätzing stated at the press conference concluding the spring meeting of the German bishops in Mainz, based its conclusions on “recent theological and especially liturgical insights and the results of previous ecumenical dialog.”
“It is my personal conviction that what is written there is justifiable,” the bishop added.
The study prepared by the ecumenical working group pointed out that Martin Luther and his followers believed in the real presence, as do Catholics.
“Luther and the Lutherans defended the real presence of Christ against Zwingli, who interpreted the presence of Christ in bread and wine purely anamnetically, and then also dissociated themselves from Calvin, whose attempt to go beyond Zwingli and to think of the presence of Christ as spiritually worked, they could understand in this wise man.”
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was very critical of the document. He said it was based on an “assumption” he cannot share — “namely, that the Catholic Eucharistic celebration and the Protestant last supper are identical.”
LifeSiteNews reported earlier this year on Koch’s remarks. The Swiss cardinal also explained that there are “many open questions with regard to the understanding of the Eucharist — for example, the thought of the Sacrifice does not even occur.”
In addition to his support for having Protestants receive Holy Communion, bishop Bätzing claimed that the issues discussed during the synodal path are helping with evangelization.
“These are issues serving the evangelization of our country,” the bishop of Limburg said. He is convinced that the synodal path will remove obstacles for people of goodwill in Germany.
The synodal path in Germany is focusing on four areas: power and separation of powers within the Church, priestly life today, women in the Church, and sexual morality. In all areas, demands have been made by participants in the synodal path to change the perennial teachings and longstanding disciplines of the Church.
Faithful Catholics have observed how the word “evangelization” is used more and more to defend and advance a progressive agenda in the German church, following a request made by Pope Francis.
In a 2019 letter, the Holy Father had reminded Catholics in Germany that evangelization has to be “our guiding principle par excellence.”
The apostolic nuncio to Germany, archbishop Nikola Eterović, expressed a similar position during the spring meeting.
“Evangelization is not only a duty of the Church and its representatives according to the mandate of the Risen Lord, but also a right of the people who do not yet know Jesus Christ and his Gospel, or do not know them sufficiently,” the nuncio told the German bishops.
Bishop Bätzing disqualified some of the “maximum demands” made in the context of the synodal path. Abolishing the entire hierarchy of deacons, priests, and bishops, as proposed by one of the founders of “Maria 2.0,” is “no longer the Catholic Church,” he said.
However, Bätzing emphasized the need to make use of “all the wiggle room” that exists, explicitly pointing to the difference between female priests and female deacons.
In his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II declared “that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” In that document, he did not mention deacons.
A big part of the press conference focused on reparations for victims of clerical sexual abuse in Germany. Compensation would follow guidelines already established by the state (around €50,000 per victim), bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier explained.