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Bishop seeks change from Rome over divorcees

Published on April 25, 2005

25 April 2005

MAINZ – The chairman of Germany’s Conference of Catholic Bishops said on Monday a “pressing issue” for Pope Benedict XVI was the church’s ban on giving communion to divorced people who remarry.

Speaking before Germany’s main mass of thanksgiving for the new papacy and a meeting of most of Germany’s 27 bishops, Cardinal Karl Lehmann said however he did not expect “quick results” on the issue.

Lehmann and other bishops had no success in past attempts to convince Pope John Paul II and the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger – now pope – to liberalise the church’s stance.

Rome maintains that those who remarry without a Vatican dissolution of marriage are in a state of sin. They are welcome to attend mass, but not to share the wafers of bread distributed to the rest of the congregation.

Lehmann, who is bishop of Mainz, rejected speculation that Benedict had offered him a curia post, saying, “I haven’t conducted such a discussion with anyone, and certainly not with the pope.”

He also hinted he might not seek re-election as bishops’ chairman this autumn.

“I’ve been chairman for 18 years,” he said. “At some point, you have to say enough is enough.” But he did not say when that was.

Lehmann said he did not expect the German pope to restrict the German bishops in any way.

“When we have problems, they are the same problems that all the countries of the western world have,” he said, raising the situation of divorced people as being a typical one.

The cathedral in Mainz, west of Frankfurt, was full on Monday, with many but not all of the bishops present for their first meeting since the death of Pope John Paul II.

Several, including Cardinal Friedrich Wetter of Munich and Cardinal Joseph Meisner of Cologne, were still in Rome, according to Lehmann.


Subject: German news