December 9, 2013

Church officials in Germany defended plans by the country's bishops' conference to allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, insisting they have the pope's endorsement.

"We already have our own guidelines, and the pope has now clearly signaled that certain things can be decided locally," said Robert Eberle, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Freiburg.

"We're not the only archdiocese seeking helpful solutions to this problem, and we've had positive reactions from other dioceses in Germany and abroad, assuring us they already practise what's written in our guidelines," he said.

Eberle's comments followed the disclosure by Bishop Gebhard Furst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart Nov. 23 that the bishops' would adopt proposals on reinstating divorced and remarried parishioners as full members of the church during their March plenary.

In a Nov. 27 interview with Catholic News Service Eberle said "many points" in the pope's apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, (The Joy of the Gospel) suggested the German church was "moving in the right way" in its attitude toward remarried Catholics.