Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Vatican’s doctrinal chief, has said that local bishops should not give “contradictory interpretations of doctrine”.

In an interview with the German magazine Rheinische Post, Cardinal Müller said it was “not my style” to criticise publications by bishops. But he added: “I do not think it is particularly beneficial for each individual bishop to comment on papal documents to explain how he subjectively understands the document.”

The bishops of Malta and Germany have issued guidelines permitting Communion for the remarried. The Maltese bishops said it might be “impossible” for some couples to avoid sex, and that people could not be refused Communion if they discerned that they were “at peace with God”.

A senior cardinal made the same argument in a book released last week. Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said remarried Catholics should have “absolution and access to the Eucharist as long as – I repeat – there is the impossibility of immediately changing the situation of sin”.

Other bishops have affirmed the teaching that the remarried cannot receive Communion except when they live “in complete continence”.

Cardinal Müller said: “It cannot be that the universally binding doctrine of the Church, formulated by the Pope, is given different and even contradictory regional interpretations.

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