Inter-Communion with Protestants

I just read an interview about ecumenism between Catholics and Protestants in Germany, with Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer (Catholic) and Martin Hein, bishop of Kurhessen-Waldeck (Evangelical). In this interview, they discuss how ecumenical dialogue has worked out between the two parties and what future they see for it.

Among the things talked about were the current situation, the accomplishments of recent years and the most pressing issues for the future. The two representatives observed that considerable headway had been made with the joint declaration on Justification and a few other documents.

Asked by the interviewer, who is of the Bishops’ Conference’s news site, whether they thought that shared Communion would be possible by 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Bishop stated that he did not believe this was possible:

“I cannot see a breakthrough being immanent. For the Catholic Church, as for the Orthodox Church, it’s not about excluding other people or groups from Communion. Rather, the Eucharist has a Church-building element to it, which is why Eucharistic and Ecclesiastical Communion are inseparable. For exactly that painful situation’s reason …] we must not stop striving for visible unity of the Church, to be able to celebrate our Faith in the One Lord at one table.”

The Evangelical minister responded:

“From an Evangelical perspective, there is no obstacle. But I do not expect it to happen. Still: Miracles are not impossible, certainly not where ecumenism is concerned!”

Concerning issues they thought needed to be addressed, the Catholic Bishop said:

As important as the theological questions of Church, Office and Eucharist are: We cannot pretend the future of our churches is decided by these issues. Rather, it depends on whether we can go out of ourselves, be missionaries and work to shape society.

The Evangelical side said:

Ecumenical enthusiasm dies when we discuss the same issues, like that of Office, over and over again to no avail. It is time to ask each other honestly and come to an agreement about where we want to be in ten years from now, and what we want to have accomplished by then. We need a clear vision of the future and we must take the open horizon of worldwide ecumenism into focus a lot more.

The interviewer asked about what the two thought of the fact that some people speak of an “Ice age” in ecumenism. While the Catholic Bishop said he didn’t think such a term was appropriate in any way, the Evangelical bishop replied somewhat more critically:

During Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontificate there was undeniably a general hardening. In summary, those years were lost ones for ecumenism between Roman Catholic and Evangelical Christendom. But to call that an “ice age” is not appropriate. Ecumenism is more than a meeting of representatives. It grows from the People of God, and there we have a lot of warmth!

First, I invite comments on these statements.
Second, my question is: Does anyone think Inter-Communion will come some day?

no it won’t.

Catholics have Valid Holy Orders and the Real True Presence with Adoration and Benediction. (Orthodox also have the True Presence and Valid Holy Orders but I do not know how their Benediction/Adoration works if they have it)

I know that many protestant churches just serve grape juice and crackers. They do not take Jesus’ last supper seriously.

The one’s mentioned in this article are most likely Lutherans.


From my perspective, it is the Protestants who reject the Church. Until they agree to re-join the “club,” they can’t be members. And they can’t be members because they don’t want to re-join the club. If that makes any sense.

Wow! Really! Grape Juice and crackers! I am really grateful that my parents brought me up to respect other religions.

With due respect just because they are Lutherans doesn’t mean that they have valid orders. There was a strong tendency among german lutherans to down play the sacrificial, and ontological aspects of the Priesthood in the aftermath of the Reformation with the result that we cannot be sure if they do or not. It is quite similar to the topics Leo XIII covered in his bull apostolicae curae on Anglican orders. I do hope and pray that there will be full communion between the Church and the Lutherans someday, however the further they stray from Traditional/first millennial christianity(cf. ordination of women, homosexual marriage etc.) the more difficult that will be.

In practice despite what the church norms dictate, non-Catholics sometimes receive communion in Catholic churches and vice-versa both in Germany and elsewhere.

It is worth also noting perhaps that Orthodox Christians do not allow Catholics to receive communion in their churches because “we are aware that serious differences exist in our understanding of the church, eucharistic discipline, and pastoral practice which now prevent us from communicating in one another’s churches.”

That is not necessarily a throw away comment, many Protestant churches deny the sacrificial nature of the Holy Communion/Last supper and as such don’t feel bound to use grape wine and wheat bread to “do this in memorial of Him”. In fact grape juice and crackers are perfectly acceptable symbolic reference points for many modern protestant groups. They make no further claim as to the nature of the elements.

During Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontificate there was undeniably a general hardening. In summary, those years were lost ones for ecumenism between Roman Catholic and Evangelical Christendom. But to call that an “ice age” is not appropriate. Ecumenism is more than a meeting of representatives. It grows from the People of God, and there we have a lot of warmth!

What a cheap shot at Pope Benedict, who was committed to ecumenism, but not at the cost of digressing from dogma. For a different perspective read the following.

"Quote: Pasadena, Calif., Feb 24, 2013 / 04:03 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict has been a leader devoted to ecumenical efforts, according to a professor of Christian history and ecumenism at Fuller Theological Seminary, a Protestant school in Pasadena, Calif.

“I have appreciated his commitment to ecumenism,” Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., who is also a minister in the Assemblies of God, an ecclesial community in the Pentecostal tradition, told CNA Feb. 19."

Hopefully not the Swedish Lutheran church. Archbishop Jackelen is their new head.

It is not only Jackelén’s motto and her unwillingness to put Jesus ahead of Muhammed that has evoked strong feelings among many committed Christians. During her questioning in Uppsala, the new archbishop also said that the Church of Sweden has more in common with other religions than with other Christian churches, that the Virgin Birth must be understood metaphorically, that hell doesn’t exist and that the Biblical texts should not be taken as truth.


How is it not respecting other religions when you say that their communion is only grape juice and crackers? That is what it is. Heck, when I was growing up I saw my mother and grandmother set it up. They used grape juice and unsalted crackers. They only view it as a symbol. :shrug:

What you say may be true of a small minority of protestants, but those from the mainstream protestant denominations use wafers and almost all use wine, and use what to many Catholics would be a recognisable Eucharstic liturgy at their Holy Communion services . And whilst they would not share our view of transubstantation, they would generally not view communion as only a symbol. Implying that grape juice and crackers is the norm is not at all helpful.

I did not mean that. Of course Lutherans don’t have valid Orders. They don’t even see them as a Sacrament, as far as I know. What I meant was that Lutherans here in Germany (which, are the “original” Lutherans…) generally use wine and wafers.

Oh dear. No, she is not connected to this.

The OP said that they were Evangelical. So we really don’t know if they are mainstream or non-denominational or whatever else. I wouldn’t say it is a small minority, either. I know Baptists view it as a symbol. They are one of the largest protestant denominations in the world. Churches of Christ only view it as a symbol and so do the non-denominational mega churches. I can’t agree with you that it is a small minority of protestants.

Actually I just googled and it seems like Baptists are the largest protestant denomination. Hardly a small minority when the largest group thinks differently.

Yes, and mostly no. Germany’s Evangelical state church, in which Hein is a bishop, is a forced ‘union’ church, relying mostly on Reformed theology rather than Lutheran. While there are certainly some Lutherans who are members of it, the body itself is certainly not Lutheran (despite what some from a more liberal persuasion would claim). In fact, it’s fair to say that the none of the state churches of Europe are “Lutheran,” except in name only.

This confessional Lutheran prays that the Roman Catholic Church is blessed with more popes like Pope Benedict XVI - honest, Christian men who understand that true ecumenism requires full doctrinal agreement, not simply “agreeing to disagree.” And on this front, real work can be, and is being, done between Roman Catholics and the truly confessional Lutheran bodies (which are independent of the mainline churches in America and the state churches in Europe).

Let me add for clarification: The German word “evangelisch” translates as “evangelical” but that does not mean that what a German would name thus is the same as what an American will understand it to mean. Here, “evangelical” generally means Lutheran. It does contain many other denominations, but its principal meaning is Lutheran.

True. Yet “Lutheran” in the state churches of Europe (and often mainline churches in America) does not always mean “Lutheran.” :nope:

See my previous post:

You’re right about baptists, but I was thinking more about the Christian context in Germany as this is what the article was about. In the German context, evangelical means the protestant church also known as the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany (Deutschland) which is a federation of Lutheran and Reformed denominations and which does not have a symbolic view of the Eucharist.

The German Evangelisch Kirche (EKD)is a United/Lutheran/Reformed federation of churches formed after the Prussian Union forced the separate Lutheran and Reformed churches to join together. They have full altar and pulpit fellowship with each other despite denominational differences (similar to the ELCA having full fellowship with the Episcopal church here in the USA). The SELK in Germany is similar to the LCMS church here. Despite the fact that both churches have “evangelisch” in their names, there are some fairly big differences in practice and doctrine.

Another motley crew :slight_smile:

It is not a state church.

Indeed it is a “forced union”, but as I live in Germany, it is my experience that people think of Lutherans when they hear “evangelisch”.

Edit: Just saw your other post. Fully agree!

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