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Pope: Individual bishops must decide about Communion in mixed marriages

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM GENEVA (CNS) — The question of allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass in special cases has to be decided by each individual bishop and cannot be decided by a bishops’ conference, Pope Francis told reporters after a one-day ecumenical journey to Geneva.

During an inflight news conference June 21, the pope was asked about his recent decision requesting the Catholic bishops’ conference of Germany not publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Communion for such couples.

He said the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon law “and there is the problem.” The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but “provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops’ conference.”

“This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content,” he said.

Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written the bishops that “the Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published.”

Pope Francis expanded on that by saying it will have to be studied more. He said he believed what could be done is an “illustrative” type of document “so that each diocesan bishop could oversee what the Code of Canon Law permits. There was no stepping on the brakes,” he said.

The bishops’ conference can study the issue and offer guidelines that help each bishop handle each individual case, he said.

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