VATICAN CITY — Officials from the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog and leading German churchmen will meet this week to discuss if non-Catholic spouses can receive Holy Communion, the Holy See said Monday.

German cardinals and other prelates will be at the Vatican on Thursday to discuss "possible access to the Eucharist" for non-Catholic Christian spouses. Any such opening could enflame conservative Catholics displeased with what they perceive as Pope Francis' liberal tilt on some doctrinal issues.

The Vatican said Monday that the meeting's German participants will include Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who heads the German bishops' conference, and Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Cologne.

Vatican officials at the meeting will include the Holy See's top guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy, Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, who is a Jesuit like the pope, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, who deals with Christian unity issues.

Earlier this year, the majority of German bishops in the episcopal conference approved a proposal aimed at making Holy Communion possible, in certain cases and after careful scrutiny by a pastor or similar person, for non-Catholic Christians married to Catholics.

German bishops reportedly sought the meeting with the Vatican to discuss the initiative.