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ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis says the Vatican has “not put the brakes on” the possibility of communion for the Lutheran spouses of Catholics.

On his flight back to Rome after an ecumenical visit to Geneva Thursday, Francis said he wanted to clarify that church law does allow individual bishops to decide the issue for his diocese, but that an entire national bishops’ conference cannot decide for all of Germany’s Catholics.

Recently, Francis told German bishops they couldn’t publish broad guidelines for the entire nation’s faithful. But he clarified Thursday that bishops conference can provide “orientation” so individual bishops can then decide.

A majority of the German bishops’ conference adopted a proposal in February to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Communion under certain circumstances. Mixed-faith marriages are common in Germany.

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