Pope nixes German plan allowing Communion for non-Catholics

Pope Francis has told German bishops they can't publish guidelines on whether non-Catholic spouses may receive Communion, saying the issue concerns the broader Catholic Church and can't be dealt with at the local level.

A letter from the Vatican's doctrine office was published by the L'Espresso blog and confirmed Tuesday in a report on the Vatican's news portal.

A two-thirds majority of the German bishops' conference adopted a proposal in February to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Communion under certain circumstances.

The bishops' conference approved it in part as a gesture of ecumenical outreach to Protestants in a country where mixed-faith marriages are common.

Seven German bishops wrote the Vatican to request a ruling on the document.

The Vatican initially declined to rule, but then changed course.