German bishop announces communion for Protestant spouses in 'individual cases'

German bishop announces communion for Protestant spouses in ‘individual cases’

German bishop announces communion for Protestant spouses in ‘individual cases’

Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker of Paderborn. (Credit: Wikimedia/Fotostudio Leninger Paderborn - Fotoarchiv Pressestelle Erzbistum Paderborn (CC BY 3.0) / Cvoegtle (CC BY-SA 3.0) via CNA.)

Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker of Paderborn has decided to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics living in his diocese to receive holy Communion "in individual cases."

– According to a regional newspaper report, Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker of Paderborn has decided to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics living in his diocese to receive holy Communion “in individual cases.”

As the newspaper Westfalenblatt reported, the archbishop told his presbyteral council on June 27 that the document formerly known as a “pastoral handout,” which the German bishops’ conference has re-published as “pastoral guidance” following discussions with Rome, offers “spiritual help for the decision of conscience in individual cases accompanied by pastoral care.”

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“At the meeting of the Council of Priests of the Archdiocese of Paderborn on June 27, 2018, I presented my interpretation [of the document] and formulated the expectation that all pastors in the Archdiocese of Paderborn will familiarize themselves intensively with the guidance document and will act in a spirit of pastoral responsibility,” the archbishop told the newspaper.

Referring to inter-denominational marriages as “denomination-uniting” marriages in the German original, Becker further said that through baptism, their Christian faith, and the sacrament of marriage, two Christians in such unions “are united.” The Protestant spouse in such cases may have a longing and a strong desire to receive the Eucharist, the archbishop continued according to the German newspaper, and therefore it is “a matter of arriving at a responsible decision of conscience.”

At the same time, the 70-year-old Becker emphasized that his move does not constitute a “general permission” to receive Holy Communion.

Founded in 799 AD, the Archdiocese of Paderborn is situated in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and home to about 1.5 million Catholics. CNA Deutsch, the German language sister agency of CNA, has reached out to the archdiocese for confirmation, but has not yet received a response.

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