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Cardinal Koch explains ‘Eucharistic hospitality’ in Catholic-Lutheran marriages

November 02, 2016

The president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity explained the policy of the Catholic Church regarding sharing Communion with Protestants, at a press conference during the visit by Pope Francis to Sweden.

The Pope and Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan, the president of the Lutheran World Federation, had signed a joint statement pledging their efforts to restore full communion between Catholics and Lutherans, but did not suggest any immediate change to existing policies.

Cardinal Kurt Koch explained that sharing Communion is a sign of full unity among Christians—a unity that Catholics and Lutherans have not achieved. He said that on some special occasions, such as a marriage ceremony uniting a Catholic and a Lutheran, the non-Catholic party might receive the Eucharist. But this, he said, would be a case of “Eucharistic hospitality” rather than “Eucharistic communion.” Eucharistic hospitality, he said, is offered in individual cases, and it would be “very difficult to give a universal declaration because the pastoral situations are very different.”

In their joint statement, Pope Francis and Bishop Younan spoke of the pain suffered by married couples who do not share the same faith, and consequently do not regularly share Communion. However they did not offer a solution to that problem.

 
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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 03, 2016 8:48 PM ET USA

    Decision about "Eucharistic hospitality" towards Protestants is not Cardinal Kochl's to make. It would be a task for The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  • Posted by: aclune9083 - Nov. 03, 2016 2:12 PM ET USA

    Merely having a "Catholic belief" in the Real Presence, but participation in the Eucharist, absent complete acceptance of Catholic teachings and being accepted into full Communion with the church, is anathema, a source of condemnation for the recipient and those who encourage such reception.

  • Posted by: filioque - Nov. 02, 2016 6:02 PM ET USA

    I don't see what the problem is for Lutherans. If they believe the Catholic Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of the Lord, why not just become Catholic? If they don't believe that, why do they care about some merely symbolic ceremony? And why doesn't Cardinal Koch, let alone our Pope, just say so?

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Nov. 02, 2016 11:58 AM ET USA

    I never heard of such a thing. Did they ask Jesus about this? If you ask St Paul he says those who eat and drink without discerning the body and blood of the Lord eat and drink judgment on themselves. That said, if it's a Lutheran who holds a Catholic belief in the Real Presence that may be another matter.