Suggestion for the German bishops: wider access to sacramental Confession

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 13, 2018

The Code of Canon Law (#844—4) allows Catholics priests, when there is a “grave and pressing need,” to administer Holy Communion to Protestants who “demonstrate the catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.” The German bishops, in their new policy, appear to conclude that more or less everyone has a “grave and pressing need” and a proper disposition.

That same Canon 844—4 allows Catholic priests to hear the confessions of Protestants, under the same conditions. I wonder: Would the German bishops want to set the same sort of policy, expanding access to sacramental confession? Funny, isn’t it, that we haven’t heard anything along those lines?

By the way, although I’m not an expert on canon law, I’m pretty confident that, even without a “grave and pressing need,” a Catholic priest can confer the sacrament of Baptism or Confirmation on a non-Catholic, who would (as Cardinal Arinze observes) become eligible to receive Communion seven days a week.

h/t to Marco Solzi @marcosolzi

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Eric - Jul. 16, 2018 11:03 AM ET USA

    I wouldn't hold your breath.