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German plan to allow divorced/remarried Catholics to receive Communion blocked

The Vatican has nixed a German archdiocese’s plan to allow divorced and remarried Roman Catholics to receive Communion.

In letter dated Oct 21, 2013, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller (pictured above) asked the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau to retract its pastoral guidelines that permitted priests to “respect” the wishes of divorced and remarried Catholics who chose to receive the Sacraments.

The policy laid down in the archdiocese’s new pastoral guidelines for clergy said if divorced and remarried Catholics had made a “responsible moral decision” to partake, their consciences should be respected. The guidelines also proposed a pastoral blessing for those entering into civil partnerships.

In his letter to the archdiocese, which is currently without an archbishop following the retirement of Archbishop Robert Zollitsch on 17 September 2013, Archbishop Müller said the new policy was contrary to church teaching and “would cause confusion among the faithful about the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.”

Ceremonies to bless divorced Catholics entering into civil partnerships were also contrary to the Magisterium of the church as “celebrations of this kind were expressly prohibited by John Paul II and Benedict XVI”, Archbishop Müller wrote in his letter, published in the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost on Nov 11, 2013.

He added that the adoption of any new policy during the interregnum period before the appointment of a new archbishop was contrary to church policy.

However, the Vatican ban has not been well received by the German Catholic Church. Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, Die Tagespost reported, said Archbishop Müller’s letter is not the final word on the matter.

“The prefect of the Congregation cannot end the discussion,” Cardinal Marx said. “We will see that this is discussed further, but with what result, I do not know.”  („Wir werden erleben, dass das diskutiert wird in der ganzen Breite; mit welchem Ergebnis, weiß ich nicht“.)

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