Cardinal laments Vatican silence on intercommunion

What happened?

Cardinal Wilhelm Eijk has strongly criticised the Vatican’s response to a dispute in the German Church. The German bishops approved draft guidelines which would permit some Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Communion. A group of seven cardinals said this contradicted Church teaching, and appealed to Rome. Pope Francis – via the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – refused to settle the issue, asking the German bishops to reach an agreement.

What cardinals said

In an article for the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Eijk said he found the Vatican response incomprehensible. Most German Protestants, being Lutherans, do not uphold Catholic belief in the Eucharist. If they agree with Church teaching, they should become Catholic, the Dutch cardinal argued. He claimed that “the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter” were failing to “transmit faithfully” the “deposit of faith”, and that it reminded him of the Catechism’s words: “Before Christ’s Second Coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.”

Cardinal Gerhard Müller said the Vatican’s response was “very poor”, and that there is no “sacramental communion without ecclesial communion”.

What commentators said

The National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin said that the German bishops had also been unhappy with the result. Pentin quoted the German commentator Mathias von Gersdorff as saying that the Pope had effectively rejected the proposal of the German bishops, led by Cardinal Reinhard Marx. In effect, von Gersdorff said, Francis had told Cardinal Marx: “You have created a huge problem. Look to yourself to try and get out of it.”

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection