Bätzing wrote a letter to clergy in his Diocese of Limburg in March, advising them to give Holy Communion to non-Catholic individuals only if they requested it after examining their consciences.
In the four-page letter issued in light of the Ecumenical Church Congress, he told priests that there could be “no general, inter-denominational reception of the Eucharist” or “new forms of Eucharistic celebration.”
He wrote: “The prerequisite for a worthy reception of the Eucharistic gifts, for both Catholics and non-Catholics, is the examination of one’s conscience.”
“As pastors, we respect the decision of conscience when someone receives Holy Communion after serious examination and in accordance with the Catholic faith.”
On May 15, the Ecumenical Church Congress encouraged participants to attend services at each others’ churches.
On the eve of the event, Bätzing insisted that the church services would be “ecumenically sensitive.”
Meetings and liturgical celebrations took place at more than 100 locations in Frankfurt.
CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that Fr. Johannes zu Eltz, Catholic dean of the city, offered an apology to Protestants at the beginning of Mass in Frankfurt Cathedral.
He asked forgiveness for the times that they had encountered arrogance and an insistence on boundaries on the Catholic side.
“I ask for forgiveness for this and thank you for your patience,” he said.
In video interviews during the Ecumenical Church Congress, Bishop Bätzing and Thomas Sternberg discussed the German Catholic Church’s controversial “Synodal Way.”
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The multi-year process, expected to end in February 2022, brings together bishops and lay people to discuss four main topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.
The German bishops initially said that the process would end with a series of “binding” votes -- raising concerns at the Vatican that the resolutions might challenge the Church’s teaching and discipline.
Bätzing said in the video interview: “If we come to decisions, and we will, then that will develop a dynamic that also leads to results.”
Asked about his comment that a day of blessing of same-sex couples in Germany in protest at the Vatican was not a “helpful sign,” the bishop clarified that he was objecting to the polemical nature of the event.
“I wanted to react against this, not against our taking steps in this direction,” he said.
Bätzing added that he understood the desire of same-sex couples to receive a blessing in a church.