The German episcopate is divided on the question of granting Protestants access to Eucharistic Communion, and the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reminds priests that they are not obliged to obey their bishops when they order them to commit acts that go against the doctrine and practice of the Church.
Priests are “not bound by Divine Law to administer Holy Communion to a non-Catholic, and in any case,they certainly cannot be bound by any episcopal order,” declared Cardinal Gerhard Müller on December 11, 2018, in an interview with the information website LifeSite.
This statement from the former prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith comes one month after the bishop of Münster, Bishop Felix Genn, declared on the contrary that no priest has the right to refuse Communion to a Protestant.
Ever since Pope Francis’ visit to the Lutheran church in Rome (November 15, 2015), when in answer to a Protestant woman’s question on the matter, he evasively responded, “I would never dare to give permission for this because it is not in my authority. Speak with the Lord and move forward,” many bishops have rushed headlong into what they believe to be a carte blanche for intercommunion.
Cardinal Müller recalls that there are cases in which a priest has to resist his bishop “just as St. Paul resisted St. Peter,” quoting the passage from the Epistle to the Galatians (2:11). We might add that St. Paul was not only a priest, but also a bishop, and even an apostle, and that he took the liberty of publicly rebuking the first pope “because he was not walking uprightly unto the truth of the Gospel.” Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre did exactly the same thing.
The Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten’s interview with Fr. Davide Pagliarani, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, on December 15, 2018, echoes this position, recalling that it is “inconceivable that the Church was mistaken for two millennia and that she found the truth about these questions only during the years of the Council, between 1962 and 1965.”