Church officials in Germany defended plans by the country’s bishops’ conference to allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, insisting they have the pope’s endorsement.
“We already have our own guidelines, and the pope has now clearly signaled that certain things can be decided locally,” said Robert Eberle, spokesman for the archdiocese of Freiburg.
“We’re not the only archdiocese seeking helpful solutions to this problem, and we’ve had positive reactions from other dioceses in Germany and abroad, assuring us they already practice what’s written in our guidelines,” he said.
Eberle’s comments followed the disclosure by Bishop Gebhard Furst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart Nov. 23 that the bishops’ would adopt proposals on reinstating divorced and remarried parishioners as full members of the church during their March plenary.
In an interview Wednesday with Catholic News Service, Eberle said “many points” in the pope’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, (“The Joy of the Gospel”) suggested the German church was “moving in the right way” in its attitude toward remarried Catholics.
Uwe Renz, spokesman in the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, also defended the bishops’ stance. He said he believed the bishops were acting “in the spirit of the pope’s teaching.”
“Our own dialogue process has shown this is a major issue for both lay Catholics and priests,” Renz said.
“Pope Francis has called on bishops to exercise a wise and realistic pastoral discernment on such problems, and our bishops want divorced and remarried Catholics to be a full part of the church community, with full rights,” he said.
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