Last week, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to the German bishops’ conference and said their proposal for a so-called “Eucharistic meal fellowship” would harm relationships with Eastern Churches.

In an interview with German magazine Herder Korrespondenz, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Cardinal Kurt Koch said he believed the intervention was backed by Pope Francis.

“There is no mention of this in the text. But the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ladaria, is a very honest and loyal person. I cannot imagine that he would do anything that Pope Francis would not approve of.”

Cardinal Koch also said he “heard from other sources that the pope has expressed his concern in personal conversations.”

He added that Pope Francis had “concern” not just about intercommunion with Protestants, “but about the situation of the Church in Germany in general.”

President of the German bishops’ conference Bishop Georg Bätzing said the “critical remarks” in the CDF’s letter would have to be “weighed up” in the coming days at their fall plenary meeting that began yesterday.

Koch ended his interview saying the German bishops could not continue as before, after the CDF’s letter.

“If the German bishops were to rate such a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith less highly than a document from an ecumenical working group, then something would no longer be right in the hierarchy of criteria among the bishops.”

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