PADERBORN, Germany (ChurchMilitant.com) - A group of faithful German priests is resisting their bishop over intercommunion with non-Catholics.
On Tuesday, an association of priests in the western German archdiocese of Paderborn issued a statement condemning Abp. Hans-Josef Becker's decision to allow non-Catholic spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion on an individual basis.
"We note unanimously that this directive is unacceptable," declared the priestly circle Communio Veritatis.
Drawing from the Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Communio Veritatis declared: "In general, 'to receive Holy Communion, one must be fully integrated into the Catholic Church and be in the state of grace.'"
Quoting Pope John Paul II, the association reiterated Church teaching on intercommunion: "The rejection of one or more of the truths of the Faith about these sacraments ... means that the petitioner is not disposed for its rightful reception."
"It is part of the nature of Protestantism not to have the full Catholic faith in the Eucharist," the priests reminded Abp. Becker.
"No diocesan bishop can declare the situation in a mixed-confessional marriage a serious emergency in order to facilitate inter-communion," they continued, noting that in late June, Cdl. Walter Brandmüller — one of the four dubia authors — reiterated that "the canon relates to extreme situations such as war, persecution, deportation and natural disasters."
The faithful clerics concluded their statement by proclaiming, "The priestly circle Communio Veritatis remains determined to serve faithfully in all things Jesus Christ and the continuing Magisterium of the Catholic Church for the salvation of souls."
The extraordinary correction is the latest clash in the war over Holy Communion for non-Catholics in Germany. It comes on the heels of the June 27 release of guidelines for intercommunion by the German Bishops' Conference.
In a press release accompanying the new guidelines, the bishops emphasized the document is not an official German Bishops' Conference text, but "an aid" for individual bishops on intercommunion.
The prelates decided to move ahead with publication after Pope Francis' June 22 in-flight press conference, where he told reporters the decision to admit non-Catholics to Holy Communion should rest with individual bishops, not with national episcopal conferences.
In May, Msgr. Nicola Bux, a former adviser to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, warned that admitting non-Catholics to Holy Communion would "go against Revelation and the Magisterium," leading Christians to "commit blasphemy and sacrilege."
Dutch Cdl. Willem Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, wrote that "Communion should not be administered to a Protestant, even if married to a Catholic, because the Protestant does not live in full communion with the Catholic Church and, therefore, does not explicitly share faith in the Eucharist."
Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Vatican's former liturgy chief, said that if Protestants want to receive Holy Communion, then they must enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Even in Germany, support for the proposal was not monolithic. In April, seven German prelates — among them, Cdl. Gerhard Müller, the Vatican's former doctrine chief — broke ranks with their brother bishops, asking the Vatican to intervene.
Müller insisted that only those in full communion with the Catholic Church may receive the Eucharist, adding, "Anyone who questions this revealed truth in theory or overrides it in practice enters into open contrast with the Catholic faith."