The head of the German Bishops' Conference says German bishops support allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive communion "under certain conditions."

Church teaching holds that, without an annulment of the first marriage, such Catholics are living in sin and thus ineligible to receive communion. Pope Francis has sought to end what he calls "de facto excommunication" for those Catholics but conservative bishops oppose change.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the head of the German Bishops' Conference, said in a statement issued Monday that the German bishops favor "differentiated solutions that do justice to the individual case and under certain conditions allow admission to the sacraments."

Marx has previously signaled personal support for an opening but the statement is significant in throwing the weight of his country's bishops behind change.