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Catholic Church should share Communion with Protestants: German President 

The President of Germany has called for the Catholic Church to allow Protestants to receive Communion.

Speaking at Katholikentag, a major conference for German-speaking Catholics in Münster, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “Let us seek ways of expressing the common Christian faith by sharing in the Last Supper and Communion. I am sure: Thousands of Christians in interdenominational marriages are hoping for this.”

Steinmeier said he was speaking “not as Federal President, but as an avowed Evangelical Christian who lives in an interdenominational marriage.”

He also criticised the Bavarian government’s decision to hang crosses in public buildings, saying the state should not “patronise” religion.

His words came after the Vatican failed to rule on whether a proposal by German bishops to allow Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion under certain circumstances violated Church teaching. Seven German bishops, including Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne, had challenged the proposal and asked the Vatican to intervene, but Pope Francis urged the bishops to come to an agreement amongst themselves.

Reports say that the debate subsequently dominated the Katholikentag conference, at which Cardinal Woelki also spoke along with Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the main proponent of the plan.

Cardinal Marx echoed the words of the German President, saying: “When someone is hungry and has faith, they must have access to the Eucharist. That must be our passion, and I will not let up on this.”

Protestant German comedian Eckart von Hirschhausen caused particular controversy by demanding to be “handed that wafer” because, since he is married to a Catholic, he pays his Church tax.

“I don’t see the point of a public debate about wafers,” he said, referring to the Blessed Sacrament. He added that climate change is a “far more serious” issue. The crowd, which was mainly Catholic, applauded him as he said that, since he paid his Church tax, the Church had “better happily hand out a wafer for it, or give me back my money!”

Cardinal Woelki, who was speaking alongside the comedian, firmly disagreed. “As a Catholic, I would never speak of a wafer,” he said. “Using this concept alone demonstrates that we have a very different understanding” of the Blessed Sacrament, in which “Catholics encounter Christ Himself”.

Von Hirschhausen later apologised after his comments caused outrage on social media.

The debates over Communion for Protestants also prompted Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg to criticise the tone of the conference, saying it was in danger of being “intrumentalised” by supporters of the proposal.

Public pressure that does not appreciate the depth of the doctrinal issues at stake is very unhelpful, he said.

 

source: Catholic Herald

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2 Responses to Catholic Church should share Communion with Protestants: German President

  1. A. S. Mathew

    The mass or the Lord’s supper is taken by believers of various denominations in three different belief. Tran-substantiation ( the bread and wine will be turned as body and blood), then other group believe some divine presence, and the third group ” simply as a memory”. It is a great move that the non-Catholics are welcomed to participate at the mass, whether the participants do exactly believe the doctrine of Tran-substantiation is fully accepted.

    When Dr. Billy Graham conducted a world conference of interim evangelists from around the world in Geneva in 1983, the Anglican Bishop conducted the Lord’s supper; the participants were from so many different denominations, which was a very inspiring act of worship in unity.

    Some of the ultra Pentecostal Churches will not allow the members of other Pentecostal Churches in India to participate at their Lord’s supper, whereas some Pentecostal Churches will allow anybody who is baptized from any denomination. The Brethren Church will allow only their own members to participate. Thus, the spirit of closed communion has set a wall of separation from other denominations. Is it Biblical for the Bible holding Churches? Did JESUS imply any strict rule with regard to the Lord’s supper, who are allowed and who are not allowed? It is very sad that many man-made doctrines have penetrated to the Church world to create walls of separation, but not to build bridges.

     
  2. chhotebhai

    If I am not mistaken the Catholic Church has well defined criteria for non-Catholics to receive communion. They include the following: – A belief in the holy Eucharist, being free from a state of grave sin, and not having their own pastor/ church in the area.

    Our lopsided idea about the Eucharist is because of the Jansenist heresy several centuries ago that believed that the Eucharist is a reward for being good. To the contrary the Church’s official teaching (not of myopic parish priests) is that the Eucharist is a means to attain sanctity.

    All Christian Churches must intensify their attempts to come closer together, emphasizing their commonality rather than their differences.