US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Communion for the divorced and remarried: A bishop said that?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

"We are all faced with the problem of how we can help people in whose lives certain things have gone wrong and that includes a wrecked marriage. This is a question of mercy and we will be discussing this problem intensively in the near future."

That was Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, president of the German bishops conference, in an interview with the German publication Die Zeit (courtesy of the UK Tablet) on Pope Benedict's approaching visit to his home country. The comments specifically refer to the German president, Christian Wulff, a remarried practicing Catholic who does not receive communion, but who issued the invitation to the pope. Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, a partnered gay man who is also a practicing Catholic, will also be meeting the pope on his visit. Wowereit's situation drew an interesting, if more cryptic, response from Zollistsch: "We must see how we can find theologically based answers to questions of lifestyles."

How refreshing it is to hear a bishop--and an influential one at that--acknowledge a pastorally difficult situation and suggest the possibility of conversation and even a new approach to the matter. Not surprisingly, the cardinal fo Cologne and the papal nuncio to Germany distanced themselves from Zollitsch's comments, but one hopes there will be other (papal?) ears that might hear them.

Apropos of the topic, U,S. Catholic is running a Sounding Board survey on an article written by a Austrian theologian on this very topic, who argues that the Roman Catholic Church should follow the lead of the Orthodox Church and make provisions for the communion of divorced and remarried Catholics.

Related: Remarried Catholics shouldn't be divorced from Communion

Austrian priests call for disobedience

Die Zeit interview with Archbishop Zollitsch (in German)