German Intercommunion

On a friend’s facebook post, some discussion this bit of blog-gossip from Edward Pentin at the NCReg:

German bishops have voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of producing a “guide” for Protestant spouses on reception of Holy Communion under certain conditions.

At their spring conference in Ingolstadt, the German bishops’ conference agreed that a Protestant partner of a Catholic can receive the Eucharist after having made a “serious examination” of conscience with a priest or another person with pastoral responsibilities, “affirms the faith of the Catholic Church,” wishes to end “serious spiritual distress,” and has a “longing to satisfy a hunger for the Eucharist.”

Non-Catholics may, under some conditions, receive the repeatable sacraments. Plus marriage, of course. That’s not really new. Canon 844, section 4 covers it:

If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

The way I read it is that any sacramental minister, even a lay person, may administer the Eucharist if there is danger of death. Other situations are governed by a single bishop or a conference of bishops. This would seem to be what the German bishops are exploring.

For the better part of thirty-three years, earnest Catholics had an open season on actions, policies, and opinions they deemed to be incorrect. Often enough, they would get a friendly ear from someone higher up than their pastor or even their bishop. Law-n-Order would be restored–or there was the hope.

Union with Rome is so often cited as part of the requirement for receiving Catholic sacraments, and yet there is so much bile expended in Rome’s direction these days. I can think of some instances that fall somewhat outside of “a frown-punctuated conversation” or “all that hokum Catholics believe.” Most observers would agree these days we have multiple crises of the spiritual life: belief versus nones, marriage versus break-ups, belonging versus isolation. I have faith in God and in the sacraments of the Church. It would seem that many non-Catholics do too. Select bloggers, perhaps not so much.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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