German Catholics’ confusing attempt to allow Communion for Protestants

Source: Religion News Service

BY Tom Heneghan

PARIS (RNS) — If you’re a Protestant married to a Catholic in Germany, you might be able to receive Communion along with your spouse in the Catholic Church. Then again, you may not be welcome to do so, or you could find yourself simply unsure.

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This confusing situation, created by a proposed change to the tradition that the Catholic Eucharist was “for Catholics only,” leaves German Catholicism caught between its majority’s desire for a relaxation of the rules — a view shared by Pope Francis — and the limits to change in the world’s largest church.

In February, the German Catholic bishops approved draft guidelines for priests on when they may distribute Catholic Communion to Protestants attending Mass, signaling a new openness. But the guidelines immediately sparked a tussle between reformers and conservatives and surprising flip-flops from the Vatican.

Since then, some dioceses have reflected the new attitude toward inter-Communion on their official websites. Other churches hardly post even a passing reference to it. Meanwhile, a debate has gripped the country’s Catholic Church, exacerbated by mixed signals from the Vatican.

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