Catholicism News

German Catholics’ confusing attempt to allow Communion for Protestants

Sister Placida scales hosts at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Gertrud's host bakery in Alexanderdorf, Germany, about 30 miles south of Berlin, on July 28, 2011. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)

PARIS (RNS) — If you’re a Protestant married to a Catholic in Germany, you might be able to receive Communion along with your spouse in the Catholic Church. Then again, you may not be welcome to do so, or you could find yourself simply unsure.

This confusing situation, created by a proposed change to the tradition that the Catholic Eucharist was “for Catholics only,” leaves German Catholicism caught between its majority’s desire for a relaxation of the rules — a view shared by Pope Francis — and the limits to change in the world’s largest church.

In February, the German Catholic bishops approved draft guidelines for priests on when they may distribute Catholic Communion to Protestants attending Mass, signaling a new openness. But the guidelines immediately sparked a tussle between reformers and conservatives and surprising flip-flops from the Vatican.

Since then, some dioceses have reflected the new attitude toward inter-Communion on their official websites. Other churches hardly post even a passing reference to it. Meanwhile, a debate has gripped the country’s Catholic Church, exacerbated by mixed signals from the Vatican.

The question of inter-Communion, which hardly arises in many other countries, is a recurrent one in Germany. The country’s Christians are almost evenly divided between Catholics and Protestants (mostly Lutherans), and many marriages cross denominational boundaries.

Pope Francis holds up the host as he celebrates Mass in San Gelasio parish church in the Ponte Mammolo neighborhood of Rome on Feb. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

As a result, many German Protestants already receive Communion with their Catholic spouses, often with the agreement of their parish priest. They do so discreetly, however, because the Vatican seemed opposed to it and because many church leaders fear that officially condoning individual exceptions could be a slippery slope toward full doctrinal change.

“Apparently Catholicism’s ecumenical principles and their inclusive understanding of the church … are still foreign to some people 50 years after the Second Vatican Council,” complained Bishop Gerhard Feige, the bishops conference delegate for ecumenical relations and a co-author of the guidelines.

Pope Francis has taken a more flexible approach to interpreting Catholic canon law than his conservative predecessors and has made better relations with other Christians a priority.

Thinking the time was right to tackle the issue, the German bishops conference — led by Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a senior papal adviser — drew up a 38-page “pastoral guide” meant to help priests lead mixed couples to a solution.

The Protestant spouse must share the Catholic understanding of Jesus Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist — to which Lutheran doctrine is close — and be in “severe spiritual distress” by being excluded from it, it said.

A large majority of the bishops present — 47 out of 60 — voted in February to publish the document, titled “Walking with Christ —  Tracing Unity,” in the near future.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki arrives for a meeting at the Vatican on March 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

A month later, seven dissenting bishops led by Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki asked the Vatican to rule whether the guidelines violated Catholic doctrine and the unity of the worldwide church.

In an April 10 letter marked “strictly confidential,” Vatican officials asked the Germans not to release the document, at least not yet. They called Marx, Woelki and four other bishops to Rome for a closed-door meeting with its top officials for doctrinal and ecumenical affairs.

The officials told them on May 3 that the pope thought the document was “not ready for publication” and wanted them to “find as unanimous an agreement as possible.”

In late May, the Vatican reiterated the pope’s doubts about publishing the document in a personal letter to Marx, which was leaked to conservative Catholic media before the cardinal even received it. Rome suddenly seemed to be backing away from the changes.

A heated debate ensued with suggestions of splits within the bishops conference and between Germany and Rome. “Many people are very disappointed and the damage this has done cannot be estimated. Old wounds have been reopened, bitterness and resignation are spreading,” wrote Feige.

Citing “an underground civil war” between church reformists and conservatives, Marco Politi, a veteran Italian-German observer of Vatican affairs, told the Hamburg weekly Die Zeit: “The German bishops conference may have a progressive majority, but the world church doesn’t.”

The world church and the Curia, he said, are “putting on the brakes.”

Pope Francis finally spoke about the issue in public on June 21 on his flight back to Rome after a day highlighting ecumenism at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

“Maybe this wasn’t the right information at the right time. There was a little bit of confusion,” he admitted to journalists.

Catholic canon law has always allowed inter-Communion in exceptional cases, he said, and bishops have the power to decide if non-Catholics in their diocese can receive it.

The problem was that the Germans wanted to issue the document in the name of the national bishops conference, a procedure the code does not allow. “Why? Because something approved by a bishops conference immediately becomes universal,” Francis said.

With that explanation, the German bishops met again in late June and decided to publish the guidelines as an unofficial text to help individual diocesan bishops decide how to handle the issue.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx speaks in Munich on Feb. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

“There’s been a lot of confusion,” Marx said. “It’s not about a general invitation to Communion. This is a help for interdenominational couples to think hard about their faith and lives so they can reach a responsible decision.”

Left to decide how to handle this, some bishops have welcomed the new guidelines warmly. “Interdenominational couples and families are as dear to us as ecumenism,” said Paderborn Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker.

In nearby Münster, the diocese decided to wait until autumn to decide.

Bamberg Archbishop Ludwig Schick, one of the seven bishops who complained to the Vatican, said his diocese would follow the guidelines but hinted it would interpret them strictly.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Protestant churches — which mostly allow Communion for all Christians — have mostly kept a discreet silence about the Catholic dispute, which came as a surprise after ecumenism seemed to reach new levels during events marking the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation last year.

Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, head of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), stressed that Pope Francis said the German guidelines were “not a brake” to further cooperation among Christians.

“Luckily, the swan song for ecumenical progress that some have started singing has turned out to be premature,” he said.

(Tom Heneghan is a Paris-based correspondent.)

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  • There is a larger theological backdrop to this specific issue. Since Heaven will be populated exclusively by REAL CATHOLICS, will God at some point decide that She would prefer to spend eternity in Hell with normal people?

  • There is nothing more sacred in the RCC than the holy mass; and nothing more sacred at the mass than the real presence of Jesus Christ through the transubstantiation of the bread and wine. This is one of the items that diffentiates the RCC from the other faiths.
    Because the faiths do not view the Eucharist in the same manner, I don’t agree with non-Catholics receiving communion at the mass.
    Once again, you have heretical priests straying from the catechism for humanistic needs and a liberal Pope who thinks anything goes as far as doctrine is concerned.

  • Certainly you’d be the one to tell us about life in Hell.

    Btw, just how would YOU recognize “normal people”?

  • This article confirms the impression that Tom Henegan may not be the most reliable reporter on issues Catholic.

    The phrase “its majority’s desire for a relaxation of the rules” appears from thin air.

    There is no indication that a significant minority of German Catholics desire a relaxation of the rules, let alone a majority.

  • Bob, stop being such an as​swipe.

    Anyway, your “hell” of your Christian fairy tale is just one more case of your fictional BOMITS being excessively brutal, as so often happens in your sickening Christian storyline.

  • Doesn’t matter. Catholicism is dying out anyway, as are you, Bobose. Good riddance to both of you, and a better world it will be without either of you in it.

  • There’s no presense of Jesus anywhere; he rotted into worm food long ago. The whole transubstantiation thing is a silly fairy tale that only stu​pid and ignorant folk still believe.

    The RCC is dying out. GREAT riddance.

  • I always wonder what is missing in your life that responses such as yours are so angry and hate driven.
    I feel sorry for you and will pray for you when I go to mass today.

  • This is the nth iteration of “Lisa Strom”, who also pops up as “Bob Cariozen” and a few others. They are all the same individual.

    I just block them as they pop up – there is no one at the other end to talk to.

  • many lutherans do believe in a real presence in communion . it is the scholastic term “transubstantiation” which they don’t accept . this is more an historic fight of theologians than a meaningful discussion .

  • Besides, how could it be eternal bliss if it is populated with the shrill, ignorant, bigoted cretins who all feel.assured they are getting into heaven?

  • Yes Heaven will be filled with real Catholics (aka Christians), but would that also include members of the Roman Church?

  • Lutherans believe in the Sacramental Union of Christ and the elements during communion. They also believe that a communicant must receive both the bread and wine. They do not believe in consubstantiation or that communion is just a representation, symbol or memorial..

  • More proof that an open society and intermarriage are a bane to the existence of sectarian interests.

    Abrahamic faiths rely on claims of exclusivity and insularity to keep cohesive. A tough thing to do where you have religious freedom and sectarian influence on a community can’t rely on peer pressure anymore.

  • The question is how much self-sanctimonious self-congratulation can God tolerate before She decides to bolt.

  • “The Protestant spouse must share the Catholic understanding of Jesus Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist …”

    That’s probably the real sticking point. How many non-Catholic sects hold to the doctrine of transubstantiation? Not many, I suspect. The only reason it’s even an issue in Germany is the high number of Lutherans.

  • It appears the reason its an issue in Germany is because of the high rate of intermarriage between Lutherans and Catholics coupled with a desire not to look shrill and overly sectarian.

  • Quote from the article: The problem was that the Germans wanted to issue the document in the name of the national bishops conference, a procedure the code does not allow. “Why? Because something approved by a bishops conference immediately becomes universal,” Francis said.

    Well then fix that problem, Pope Francis. Different areas of the world do view these issues differently. Different areas of the world have different views of this issue, based on their own history, their own mix of attitudes, their openness to and readiness for change, the mix of religions in their area, and some experience with the ideals of equality and respect for all. Some cultures are ready of this and some are not. Fix it so that majorities in a bishops conference can introduce a change that is appropriate for their own people even if it would not be workable everywhere.

    Make it possible for a particular bishops conference to be the place that change is implemented without requiring that the change be implemented everywhere. Think of the introduction of badly needed solutions to the priest shortage in the Amazonian regions of South America. Bishops there have proposed letting those who left the priesthood to marry to return to being recognized as priests and allowed to function as priests. They have also talked about having some of the functions of the priest be delegated to viri probati, proven adult men who are already leaders in their communities. Let bishops conference decide when and even if those changes would work in their own environment.

    More, Pope Francis, there is going to be increasing pressure to create avenues for women to exercise more ministerial functions and to increase their voices (power) in the Church. This, too, will be something that would work for some parts of the world but would not necessarily work the same way in other parts of the world. Make it possible for change to be implemented in one place even when it can’t be implemented everywhere.

  • The only reason it is an issue is how Germany finances churches.

    Churches are financed by the government which collects taxes from individuals who register as a member of this, that, or the other denomination.

    In recent years some Germans realized that if they deregistered they could save some money on income taxes.

    The first line of attack the German Catholic bishops took was to simply deny the sacraments to those who could not provide proof they were registered and paying taxes.

    This ran into a few problems since Canon Law states that Catholics have a RIGHT to the sacraments and the vision of babies being denied baptism went over like another march through the Suedentland.

    Then Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the head of the German episcopal conference and all around fine fellow:

    had an idea. The German Protestants were not having quite the same problem. Why not erase the differences and masquerade as Protestants?

    So, you have the perfect storm – a desire for money (and they spend it all) and leadership with spines of Silly Putty.

  • Of course as often happens with your clever solutions this one:

    “Different areas of the world do view these issues differently. Different areas of the world have different views of this issue, based on their own history, their own mix of attitudes, their openness to and readiness for change, the mix of religions in their area, and some experience with the ideals of equality and respect for all. Some cultures are ready of this and some are not. Fix it so that majorities in a bishops conference can introduce a change that is appropriate for their own people even if it would not be workable everywhere.”

    runs into the problem that the Eucharist involves core Catholic belief, that Saint Paul said that those who take it without recognizing the body do so to their own condemnation, and that Catholicism has one theology, not several.

    If this involved something like what color shoes to wear you’d be good to go.

  • The wheat of the communion wafer with the chaff added and summarized in the Great Kibosh:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • I disagree with your argument. The Catholic Church is one holy Catholic and apostolic church; which should conform to the teachings of the catechism. If it is now going to appease the locals based upon local tendencies then it is no different then the numerous protestant churches that can’t figure out who they are or what they believe in.
    The problem is and continues to be the fact that men; especially those in leadership positions of the church do not even believe in The catechism of the church because they’re in there and murdered with the pleasures of the world

  • My husband’s family is in Germany. They are at this point cultural Christians the same way there are cultural, but not religious Jews in our country. Now that the kids are grown, I suspect they will be removing themselves from the church rolls.

  • Parker, many different cultures express their longing for God in different ways. The way in which the Catholic faith was developed, the ideals of the sacraments, the way the Church structured itself, were “normalized” into the culture and philosophies of the times.

    What we need to do is separate the message of Jesus from the philosophical and cultural norms which influenced what was written about what Jesus said and did and how it was interpreted. It is important to separate how we worship God from the cultural norms in which the practices of worship were developed. God can be loved, worshiped, honored in many different ways. What matters is not the forms and formats of the Catholic Church, but the relationship with Jesus.

    I think the emphasis of the Church is on the wrong thing. Some communities are ready for different kinds of changes, especially concerning openness Eucharistic sharing between Christians, concerning the roles of women in society and the Church ministry, to lay leadership rather than bishop authoritarianism. Not all areas of the world would want to make changes, but some would and should. This is how to keep Christianity alive into the future.

  • So what you are really saying is that you are a modernist.
    You imply that the origins of the church are “incorrect” because they were founded 2,000 years ago (by men) and don’t reflect your modernistic vision of what you think the church should look like. The church has endured for thousands of years because of its traditions; and without a doubt, the forms and formats matter – that is what makes the RCC the RCC. If you don’t think forms and formats matter, you haven’t talked to those Catholics that are going back to the Latin mass.
    If you are looking for female or transgender priests, want the laity to run the church, or diminish thousands of years of tradition -you are free to attend your local Protestant church.

  • Remind me who Jesus withheld the bread and wine from at the Last Supper. That’s right, no one.

    Meeting people with mercy and compassion is not “anything goes.” It’s what Jesus himself would do.

  • what does mercy and compassion have to do with this argument. Regardless what is said in these conversations, not all Protestant denominations see the Eucharist as the RCC does. If you want to receive in the RCC, then join the RCC or orthodox churches.

  • “The Protestant spouse must share the Catholic understanding of Jesus Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist — to which Lutheran doctrine is close — and be in “severe spiritual distress” by being excluded from it, it said.”

    If this be so, then let them convert to Catholicism and end their “severe distress”.

    Lutherans hold that during the sacrament, the substance of the body and blood of Christ are present alongside the substance of the bread and wine, which remain present. In the “sacramental union” the consecrated bread is united with the body of Christ and the consecrated wine is united with the blood of Christ. This does not accord with Catholic doctrine. There are other significant theological divisions between Catholics and Lutherans that cannot be ignored.

  • Jesus withheld from everyone who was not invited to the room.

    He invited no women, for example. He invited no priests from the Temple.

    Giving the Eucharist to those who do not discern the body does neither them nor the community any favors.

    1 Corinthians 11: 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. 30 For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged.

  • That there must an understanding of the Eucharist and a sharing of the faith – is primary. Secondary for those who are not normally in communion is a grave need. An example would include those in the military who receive communion in combat, where lack of access to their own priests prevents what may be their last communion.

    The Lutheran belief is summarized in Luther’s Small Catechism:

    “What is the Sacrament of the Altar?”

    “The Sacrament of the Altar is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ himself, for us Christians to eat and to drink.”

    That is probably about as much as most Catholics know, perhaps more.

    “Under” precludes “alongside”.

  • The Catholic theology of the Eucharist is not inculturated in any way.

    The Catholic Church takes the position, and has from the earliest times, that the Eucharist reality is objective and not contingent on a relationship with Jesus beyond baptism.

    That is, if an infant is given the consecrated element, that infant receives the Body and Blood of Christ.

    The Orthodox share this belief and communicating infants is the norm in that communion.

    Any community which ready for “different kinds of changes, especially concerning openness Eucharistic sharing between Christians” is already in trouble, since it has ejected the belief that the Eucharist is a sign of a single community united in a single faith.

    I believe what you’re shooting for is something along these lines:

    “Full participation in our worship services at St. Mark’s is open and you are completely welcome to attend – including receiving communion at our service. We invite you to join us! “

    Catholic belief and practice is consistent with this, replacing “Orthodox” with “Catholic”:

    “For Orthodox Christians, the Eucharist is a visible sign of unity; to receive the Eucharist in a community to which one does not belong is improper. If one does not accept all that the Church believes and teaches and worships, one cannot make a visible sign of unity with it. The Eucharist is the result of unity, not the means by which unity is achieved. While many non-Orthodox see this as a sign that the Orthodox Church excludes non-Orthodox from the Eucharist, in reality the opposite is true. Because a non-Orthodox individual has chosen not to embrace all that Orthodox Christianity holds, the non-Orthodox individual makes it impossible for an Orthodox priest to offer him or her communion. It is not so much a matter of Orthodoxy excluding non-Orthodox as it is the non-Orthodox making it impossible for the Orthodox to offer the Eucharist.”

  • The point is they believe the reality of bread and wine remain and are united with the Body and Blood of Christ. A Lutheran believes Christ’s risen presence is “with” or “beside” or “under” the bread and wine.

    A Catholic believes that what Christ gives is not bread and wine but His Body and Blood, though bread and wine remains as far as the senses can observe – He gives Himself under the appearances of bread and wine in virtue of a profound change in the true being of the bread and wine. Under sense experience it is bread and wine but the true reality is that an ontological change has taken place and it is no longer bread and wine.

    Lutherans use the phrase “Real Presence” in describing the Eucharist, but reject the concept of transubstantiation. Instead, they speak of a “sacramental union” with Jesus contained in the bread and wine. In transubstantiation, the substance of the bread and wine is replaced by the substance of Christ’s Body and Blood, so that only one substance remains. Lutherans assert that the substance of the bread and wine remains, but it takes on a second nature, namely, that of Jesus’ Body and Blood. Just as Jesus Himself had two natures (God and man), so, too, His Eucharist has a double nature (bread and His Body). Sacramental Union speaks of a uniting at a profound level of the bread and wine with the Body and Blood of Christ. The Catholic Church has rejected this.

  • “Under” is used in the Catholic definition: the reality (substance) of the Body and Blood are received under the appearances (accidents) of bread and wine.

    I mention this for two reasons: the first is that you may be thinking of consubstantiation

    which is not Lutheran belief. Yes, some Lutherans use the term, but they use it incorrectly.

    The second is that the belief necessary is not that of a college student trained in theology.

    Generally a Catholic priest will ask something like “Do you belief the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?”

    For example, Orthodoxy in general does not use the term “transubstantiation” but their belief is the same as the Catholic one.

    So, both Anglican and Lutherans use the phrase “Real Presence” in describing the Eucharist, but it may not be fair to say they reject the “concept” of transubstantiation. They may reject what they *believe* Catholics believe when they use the term.

    Also, Catholics use the term “sacramental union”, e.g.:

    “This sacramental union of ourselves with Jesus is more than the mere physical union between our body and the Sacred Host which we have swallowed. More importantly, it is a mystical and spiritual union of the soul with Jesus. This is produced in the soul by our physical contact with the sacred Body of Jesus.”

  • You’re obfuscating. The truth is, however you term this, Lutherans reject Catholic doctrine and believe bread and wine remain with the Body and Blood of Christ. Do you deny this?

    Roman Catholics believe that change occurs in the whole substance of the bread and wine – and so do Orthodox Christians.

  • Rather than obfuscating I am precising.

    I deny that most Lutherans even know what the Catholic doctrine is, let alone reject it. The same goes for Anglicans. In fact, I deny that most Catholics know what Catholic doctrine is.

    Catchesis has been so miserable for the last half century that a goodly portion of students of Catholic schools have never even heard the term “transubstantiation”.

    I ran into a Catholic priest a few years ago who was going along in life blissfully unaware that Catholics believe that the bread and wine became the Body and Blood at the consecration. He had gone to a parochial school and a diocesan high school.

    He was a sophomore in college when a chance discussion with a Catholic priest dropped that bomb on him. He actually began from zero, took Catholic instruction, and entered the seminary.

    You might try cornering an American Lutheran on the topic.

    I believe what you’ll get is something along the lines of the bread and wine continue to look like bread and wine but you receive Christ’s Body and Blood.

    That’s actually quite good enough for Canon 844.4:

    But I completely understand your concern that the Sacrament not be given to those who are not “manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and … properly disposed.”

  • NO, I am not saying “the origins of the church are incorrect.” I am saying the origins of the church fit the times in which the church formed in theology, doctrine, structure, forms of worship, etc. And they developed within the cultures in which it grew, to become even more entrenched in theology, doctrine, structure, forms of worship. It then spread that cultural laden theology, doctrine, structure, etc as it supported Euro nations in the conquest of the new worlds it thinks it “discovered”

    Yes, there are some Catholics who want to go back to the Latin Mass. And many who don’t. There are some Catholics who want to live by strict doctrinal mandates – and many who are just confused by them as being unworkable in the way we live today. None of this has to do with Jesus – it has to do with theology, doctrine, a patriarchal/hierarchal church structure that were created to spread the good word.

    There is room for both. Go to Latin Mass. I think it is wonderful if it fulfills your spiritual needs. But don’t expect it to work for everyone. Make room for those who also love the Lord but need a different spiritual nourishment.

  • A few points:
    1) you are a modernist. You don’t like the fact that the “recent history” of the church is white, male and euro-centric. You imply that the time in which the church “matured” lacked the righteousness and insight that you have today that should be applied to the church. This is quite the arrogant presumption.
    2) assuming we go your route and morph local churches to fit the local culture; what exactly does that mean and how far do you go?Homosexuality is accepted here; but not there. Female priests accepted here but not there. The local gods are incorporated there but not here. After 50 years the church will look nothing like it does now.
    3) anyone confused by the church today had poor formation or does not wish to adhere to its teachings. The fact that you state the church is unworkable based on how we live today should give everyone pause for concern; because this is doublespeak for those who wish to make changes to suit their sinful ways.
    3) there is not room for both. Either you are a member of the RCC and adhere to the catechism; or you do not. Anything in between is simply an attempt by men to change the church to be acceptable to their sinful ways.

  • And then there are the Bible Believers whom believe that when they trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (! Cor. 15:3,4) they are placed by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ and sealed (Eph. 1:13.) Paul taught that “communion” is the presence of the believers [BOC] remembering His death by eating the communion bread. No transubstantiation here.

  • The discussion is about the Real Presence in the Eucharist and whether Catholics and Lutherans believe the same when they use this expression.

    Catholics are “bible believers” – we just don’t go along with notion of individual autonomy in interpreting it. And, frankly, Anglican “via media” beliefs are all over the place.

  • What actually matters is precision in doctrine. Lutherans hold their version of the Real Presence as theology and not as unchangeable doctrine. Just because many Catholics and Lutherans don’t know what their respective Churches teach is no reason for further blurring of our differences. Indeed, its even more reason to highlight differences rather than mask them and pretend they don’t exist. In fact, Lutherans themselves hold a range of theologies on the Eucharist.

    “[T]he bread and wine continue to look like bread and wine but you receive Christ’s Body and Blood.”This ambiguous statement covers a multitude of personal interpretations from transubstantiation, consubstantiation, spiritual union, figurative, through to spiritual. It’s very Anglican “via media” and buries the truth under compromise

    What’s needed is agreement to this: “The bread and wine continue to look like bread and wine but the bread truly, really, and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord, and this is what you receive.”

    And if we do have “shared communion” with Lutherans, would this work both ways? Given the Church does not recognise the validity of Lutheran orders, this would raise even more issues, especially now with women “priests”.

    See where all this leads?

  • I cannot but agree with you that when it comes to formulations and discussions of belief “What actually matters is precision in doctrine.”

    But that it is not what we’re talking about.

    What we’re talking about is the worthiness of an individual to receive the Eucharist and, prescinding from all the other issues the German kerfuffle raises, what we’re talking about is the subject of Canon 844.4.

    And that Canon requires that the recipient manifest Catholic faith in the sacrament.

    So, the question is not what the theologians, or teaching authority, or maven or pundits in either believe, but what the individual recipient believes.

    In Western Catholicism both the Fourth Lateran Council and the Council of Trent adopted canons specifying that children may not be admitted to the Eucharist until they have attained to years of discretion (age of reason).

    The consensus is that stage in mental development arrives when children become able to discern the Eucharistic from ordinary bread, to realize in some measure the dignity and excellence of the Sacrament of the Altar, to believe in the Real Presence.

    Notably lacking is any requirement that they be able to use and explain the term “transubstantiation”, which is uncommon in the East – including the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, or be able to distinguish transubstantiation from consubstantiation, spiritual union, or any other explanation.

    In fact the statement that “[T]he bread and wine continue to look like bread and wine but you receive Christ’s Body and Blood” is all that is required.

    Let’s not impose conditions which most Catholics could not meet to further complicate matters to no point and in no advance of Christian charity.

  • Yes he did.

    That metaphor is used extensively in Catholic theology, Christ the head, the Church his body, Christ the Bridegroom, the Church his bride.

    However, neither metaphor addresses the Eucharist per se.

    In that sacrament the Body and Blood have a reality which feeds the assembly when received.

    Obviously that is in addition to the assembly itself.

  • Of course the Eucharist places the Body and Blood of Christ into a believer who receives it worthily.

  • Indeed, as do translations of the Bible.

    Apparently the reason has something to do with mankind needing to communicate and to pass on knowledge.

  • Since neither Paul nor Christ spoke English, it is unlikely they used the term “remembering”.

    In the New Testament the word used is “anamnesis”, which is more than remembering.

    It’s actually a very Eastern concept. An event of the past breaks through the walls of time and is not only “remembered” as we recall the birth of our children, but becomes really and substantially present today.

    So, Jesus says “Do this for the anamnesis of me”, which means more than stare at Leonard da Vinci’s Last Supper.

  • Let’s not impose conditions which most LGBT+ people could not meet to further complicate matters to no point and in no advance of human decency.

  • Galatians 2:20 20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

    That’s what I
    “anamnesis” when I have communion.

  • A child can probably accept better than an adult that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ because they are better able to suspend credulity and have faith untroubled by precise definitions and the reasoning behind philosophical terms like “transubstantiation” and “consubstantiation”.

    It is not a sufficient manifestation of Catholic faith to state ambiguously: “[T]he bread and wine continue to look like bread and wine but you receive Christ’s Body and Blood.” Calvinist’s, Zwinglist’s, Lutheran’s and Catholic’s could all sign up to this. The follow-up question being: “In what sense do you receive Christ’s Body and Blood?” One has to believe the bread and wine are actually transformed into the actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, with only the appearances of bread and wine remaining.

    Canon 842.2 states: Pastors of souls and other members of the Christian faithful, according to their respective ecclesiastical function, have the duty to take care that those who seek the sacraments are prepared to receive them by proper evangelization and catechetical instruction, attentive to the norms issued by competent authority.

    This has always been accepted as meaning that only members of the Catholic Church in the state of grace may receive the Eucharist – and one must accept Catholic doctrine regarding it.

    And it’s a stretch to claim Canon 844.4 covers Lutheran’s regularly attending Catholic Mass with their spouses and receiving Holy Communion. These are intended to be rare circumstances and the same requirements apply to them as to Catholics. There’s no danger of death, no shortage of Lutheran ministers in Germany and one can’t see what the grave necessity urging it might be. Whilst one can envisage genuine one off, exceptional situations, this is not what’s being proposed in Germany.

    Trent was careful to avoid making it a requirement to understand the scholastic philosophical concept of transubstantiation, describing it only as “an apt term” but was clear what the requirements of Catholic faith are:

    CANON I.-If any one denieth, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that He is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue; let him be anathema.

    CANON II.-If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema.

    CANON III.-If any one denieth, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema.

    CANON IV.-If any one saith, that, after the consecration is completed, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the admirable sacrament of the Eucharist, but (are there) only during the use, whilst it is being taken, and not either before or after; and that, in the hosts, or consecrated particles, which are reserved or which remain after communion, the true Body of the Lord remaineth not; let him be anathema.,_Canons.html

    Are you saying Lutheran’s accept Canons II – IV?

  • This is what I “anamnesis” when I take communion:
    Galatians 2:20 20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

  • I encourage more and more Bible believing by Catholics.
    “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim. 2:15, KJV

  • I just now had a question arise while going over these posts:
    When a Catholic sins, does he/she go out of the Body of Christ, only to return to the Body upon repentance , confession and penance?
    It is a rhetorical question by a former Catholic.

  • Actually those metaphors are used in the New Testament by Christ.

    Would you like the citations?

  • Unfortunately that may what you like to think, along the lines of “what x means to me”, but it is not what was said.

  • What I am saying is that few Catholic, let alone Lutherans, would even understand Canons II – IV.

    It would require special education in the meaning of “substance” and “accidents” as they were used in the definitions (btw, the way they are used are not precisely the way they are used in, say, Aristotle), at least a high school education, and more preparation time than is spent in the entire preparation for receiving a baptized non-Catholic into the Church.

    You’re attempting to apply criterion which make sense in arriving at a theological consensus between two churches seeking rapprochement to ordinary people wishing to receive the Eucharist. You’re making it more difficult than it should be when the intent is to make available a means to grace.

    For that purpose it IS a sufficient manifestation of Catholic faith to state: “[T]he bread and wine continue to look like bread and wine but you receive Christ’s Body and Blood.”

    Also note that I am not trying to claim Canon 844.4 covers Lutheran’s regularly attending Catholic Mass with their spouses and receiving Holy Communion.

    The intent of Canon 844 is for point-of-death, battlefield conditions, and the like. It is for extraordinary circumstances.

    I agree with you that the German bishops in favor of this are either ignorant of the Catholic theology of the Eucharist or driven by other motivations.

  • What did Jesus say about the body?

    “If thy hand offend thee, cut it off.”

    Do you believe the Body of Christ incorporates sin?

  • Then we are in agreement. No one would deny a dying man who did not have access to a pastor of his Christian church, and who requested it, access to confession and the Eucharistic as tangible means of grace. It’s a situation where one trusts the honesty of the person requesting the sacrament and in the mercy of God.

    However, just to reiterate the point, the Catholic Church does not require an understanding of the scholastic term “transubstantiation” or acceptance of its philosophical basis. Trent, wisely, described the term as “apt”. So one doesn’t require a sophisticated understanding or high level of education. These things used to be routinely taught in Catholic school before First Communion and Confirmation and throughout one’s religious education.

    The Baltimore Catechism is all one needs:

    Q. 870. What is the Holy Eucharist?
    A. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament which contains the body and blood, soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.

    Q. 871. What do we mean when we say the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood?
    A. When we say the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood, we mean the Sacrament which is the Body and Blood, for after the Consecration there is no other substance present in the Eucharist.

  • I think that is a diversional question to escape having to explain how and why one goes in and out of the BOC with each fall into sin.
    Paul’s gospel says we believers are sealed into the Body and are eternally in the Body of Christ. Is that what you call “incorporating sin?”

  • If a Protestant spouse really wants to receive the Eucharist in a Catholic Church, the solution is very simple and clear; BECOME A CATHOLIC. But this does beg the question as to why Protestants even want to go to a Catholic Church and receive the eucharist. Is it because there are far fewer times that a Protestant has access to the Eucharist (only offered once/month or maybe only twice/year)? Could it be that the Protestant spouse goes with the Catholic spouse to the Catholic Church because there is more than simply lack of access (e.g. lack of good theology)? Is it because the Protestant remains Protestant only because of family and culture and cannot give it up otherwise because Germany, in several ways, is still fighting the 30 Years War?

  • He wrote much of it in his epistles.
    Romans 2:16
    In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
    Romans 16:25
    Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
    2 Timothy 2:8
    Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

    *Emphasis mine

  • Epistles are letters to churches usually on specific topics.

    Gospels tell the story of Jesus’ life and ministry.

    There are four: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

    Paul has to be read in conjunction with those texts.

  • I wasn’t aware that Paul was a Catholic. Catholicism “has one theology”??? For God’s sake, spare us. We Catholics can’t even agree on the application of personal conscience, much less the “theology” behind the Tridentine vs. Vatican II worship services. The Church of Rome has been described as a “big tent” with room for Catholics of all persuasions.

    “R.A. Bob” at work again :o(

  • The Christian Church is much larger than the Church of Rome, a.k.a. the “Catholic [purported] communion of churches”.

    A Catholic worship service without the assembly is — sad to admit — liturgically and theologically bankrupt. Jesus was joined by others at his supper. He did not eat by himself. Jesus present in the assembly is just as significant as Jesus present in the consecrated species.

  • Of course, the Body of Christ incorporates sin. The Church of Christ is always the Body of Christ. The Church is comprised of sinful people whom Jesus has already saved.

    “Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God, by his Word and by his Spirit, casts a living light on sin…” (CCC-1848). The wound, in other words, is still part of the larger body (in this case, the Church).

    “Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God” (CCC-1861). In other words, Rome doesn’t know what happens to mortal sinners. The Church has never declared a single soul to be in hell. Luke 15’s three parables teach us that it is God — in the persons of the good shepherd, the woman, and the prodigal son’s father — who exercises the initiative to go forth, find, and rescue (serious) sinners. God forgives folks “lost” in sin. God’s justice is our salvation. It is what God has determined is our due. The name *Jesus* means “God saves”, not “God saves if”.

    “”Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.’ There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss” (CCC-1864). Can one “reject” God’s mercy? According to Luke 15, the answer is “No”. It is God’s forgiveness that makes repentance possible, and God forgives repeatedly just as Jesus instructed Peter and others to forgive without limit, even without prior expression of repentance by the sinner!

    The metaphorical reference to *cutting off the hand* does not refer to expulsion from the Body of Christ, i.e., the Church. It refers to the seriousness of sin to oneself, the need to stay “whole”, i.e., holy.

  • The Church has never condemned the doctrine of universal salvation.

    The belief that the Church (not the “Catholic Church”, by the way) is one, etc. does not mean that uniformity is characteristic of worship and other ecclesial praxis. The “numerous protestant churches” are part and parcel of the worldwide Church of Christ, which consists also of the various Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Church of the East traditions. The common faith is Christianity, not Catholicism. The non-Catholic churches and ecclesial communities enjoy varying *degrees of communion* with the Church of Rome and larger (purported) Catholic communion of churches (cf. Vatican II’s “Unitatis Redintegratio-3, which goes on to state, “[I]t remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body, and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church”).

    “When comparing doctrines with one another, they should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists a “hierarchy” of truths, since they vary in their relation to the fundamental Christian faith” (Unitatis Redintegratio-11).

  • Your problem is confusing “the church” with the “RCC”. Not the same according to Vatican II.

    The liturgy developed in the wake of Vatican II replaced the Tridentine mass. Furthermore, Latin is no more sacred than “Greek or Japanese” according to one writer. JPII’s Latinist, furthermore, acknowledged several years ago that Latin is dead. In addition, the earliest liturgical language of the Church of Rome was koine (read: common) Greek, not Latin. Pope Damasus I (366-384) made Latin the new liturgical language for Christians in his ecclesial province because most of them NO LONGER UNDERSTOOD GREEK. In other words, the pope made a *vernacular concession* to facilitate communal worship, much like Vatican II did in 1963.

    You might be “going back to the Latin mass,” but there is no “going back” to a Triumphalist Church of Rome.

  • No reason for a Protestant Christian to “BECOME A CATHOLIC” to receive the Catholic eucharist. More than likely, the non-Catholic is married to a Catholic, believes in the real presence, and otherwise wishes to remain in his or her non-Catholic church. Even Vatican II taught that eucharistic reception should not be a means of pursuing Christian unity (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio-8). The key benefit for “mixed marriage” couples is mutual sharing in living out their Christian faith.

  • Just as there is a “Roman” Catholic tradition within the one and only Christian faith, perhaps we need to work toward a “Lutheran” Catholic tradition. Consubstantiation does not exclude the key element of transubstantiation: Both embrace the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the consecrated elements. Ultimately, transubstantiation is a mystery and, as such, cannot be adequately explained (Jesus, saying the words of institution, does not say he is no longer holding bread and wine). On the other hand, to deny the presence of bread and wine after consecration is to deny the physical perception of our God-given senses. Acknowledging our God-given capacity to perceive the physical does not, in any way, pose a threat to our belief in the mystery of bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Christ. Much ado about nothing.

  • The RCC is not a faith. It is one of many faith traditions. There is only one faith, Christianity. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

  • Lutherans — maybe not all — do embrace the doctrine of consubstantiation, even if unfamiliar with the term.

  • Since most Protestants are Lutheran in Germany, communion is given sometimes weekly in a Lutheran mass. People go to churches of other denominations to support their friends and family. Since many Lutheran Churches now have open communion for all baptized Christians, the Catholic member of a family is welcomed to have communion at his or her spouse’s church. For mixed faith families, it would seem natural that the Lutheran member could do the same when attending a Catholic service with his or her spouse. I knew a couple who had a second marriage after being widowed, but neither wanted to convert to the other religion because their children had been raised in the respective churches and each had a strong historical connection to their church. It would have been nice if they could have shared fully in each other’s church. Both churches believe in the real presence in the bread and wine during communion, but have a different understand of what that means.

  • Lack of good theology? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    ALL Theology, All statements about the nature and history of God and his relationship to the world, is a matter of opinion, a house built of fog on the foundation of sand. There have been thousands of religions, if not hundreds of thousands of religions in the last 2500 years. But don’t worry, you have the true one.

  • It would seem natural if the Catholic service were conducted by a Lutheran.

    Otherwise it would hardly seem natural.

    Within Germany Lutherans are an administrative unit – the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany – within the larger Evangelical Church in Germany. This administrative unit in full fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

    The Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of twenty Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinist) and United (Prussian Union) Protestant regional churches and denominations in Germany, which collectively encompasses the vast majority of Protestants in that country. In 2016, the EKD had a membership of 21,922,000 members, or 26.7% of the German population.

  • This is more likely driven by the fact that couples are more likely to attend the church where both spouses can receive communion.

    Since the churches derive their revenue from taxes, and the taxes derive from a declaration when filing as to what denomination if any is supported, this gives Protestants who practice open communion a leg up on revenues over Catholics.

    The German bishops have tried various schemes to bolster revenues, and this appears to be the latest, proving once again you can serve God or Mammon but not both.

  • when I was young, 50 years ago, I very nearly became a Christian. Eventually, the very things that nearly convinced me to become a Christian eventually convinced me that it was not a good idea, after all. As I read all of the interpretations, dogmas, insistence, and disputations below, I was reminded of a passage from George MacDonald’s “Lilith”.

    A furious battle was raging around me. Wild cries and roars of rage, shock of onset, struggle prolonged, all mingled with words articulate, surged in my ears. Curses and credos, snarls and sneers, laughter and mockery, sacred names and howls of hate, came huddling in chaotic interpenetration. […] The holiest words went with the most hating blow. Lie-distorted truths flew hurtling in the wind of javelins and bones. Every moment some one would turn against his comrades, and fight more wildly than before, The Truth! The Truth! still his cry. One I noted who wheeled ever in a circle, and smote on all sides. Wearied out, a pair would sit for a minute side by side, then rise and renew the fierce combat. None stopped to comfort the fallen, or stepped wide to spare him.

  • Cutting to the chase, once you realized an activity you were dedicated to was – 50 years ago – considered a serious transgression by Christians everywhere, the idea faded.

    And then you piled on the excuses, one after the other, until as an early elder you cruise religious discussions to start battles with “christianists” and “religionists”.

    There is not much beyond that going on.

  • still the epistles of paul are the first written gospels, i.e. good news, of christianity . the later distinctions between them speaks of literary types not substance .

  • Most of those Christian religions came up within the last 500 years thanks to the Reformation.

  • The Lutheran Church in Germany (EDK) does NOT believe in Real Presence as it is a mix of Calvinist and Lutheran beliefs. With regards to the Eucharist, it definitely skews Calvinist. The Catholic Church does not believe in Real Presence; they believe in Transubstantiation . Communion is about the unity of the faith (the whole faith, not certain aspects of it). To give Communion to Protestants from a Catholic Priest or vice versa implies a unity not there. Also, why should the Catholic Church follow the EDK on this? That doesn’t make the EDK right.

    My first cousin once removed married a Catholic in Germany. They are raising their children Catholic. He will not convert formally but he will not receive nor has he had the audacity to ask to receive the Eucharist from a Catholic Priest. Why people cannot just respect the rules of the Catholic Church, especially WHEN THEY ARE NOT MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, continues to baffle me.

  • If you would of asked christians century after century after Christ about transubstantiation—they would of replied “what are you talking about”. no ecumenical council in the first 1,000 years ever dealt with the nature of the eucharist.Christians belived in a presence but some hailed it to be only symbolic,others literal.Thats why trent had to overcome Augustine^s view that it was symbolic. no christian worshipped the euchaist after mass or service back then.