The Holy See Search



2-23 October 2005

The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church

This Bulletin is only a working instrument for the press.
Translations are not official.

English Edition


17 - 11.10.2005





At 09.00 a.m. today, Tuesday, 11 October 2005, in the presence of the Holy Father, with the prayer Hour of Terce, the Thirteenth General Congregation began for the continuation of the interventions of the Synod Fathers in the Hall on the Synodal theme The Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.

The President Delegate on duty was H. Em. Card. Juan SANDOVAL ÍÑIGUEZ, Archbishop of Guadalajara (Mexico).

This General Congregation ended at 12.30 with the prayer Angelus Domini and 241 Fathers were present.


At this Thirteenth General Congregation the following Fathers intervened:

- H. Em. Card. Angelo SODANO, Secretary of State (VATICAN CITY)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Czeslaw KOZON, Bishop of København (Copenhagen, DENMARK)
- H. B. Michel SABBAH, Patriarch of Jerusalem of Latin Rite, President of the Episcopal Conference (ARAB COUNTRIES)
- H. Em. Card. Vinko PULJIĆ, Archbishop of Vrhbosna, Sarajevo, President of the Episcopal Conference (BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA)
- Rev. Julián CARRÓN, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation (SPAIN)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Carmelo Dominador F. MORELOS, Archbishop of Zamboanga (PHILIPPINES)
- H.E. Most. Rev. António Augusto DOS SANTOS MARTO, Bishop of Viseu (PORTUGAL)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Jean-Claude MAKAYA LOEMBE, Bishop of Pointe-Noire (REP. OF CONGO)
- H. Em. Card. Renato Raffaele MARTINO, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (VATICAN CITY)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Antun ŠKVORČEVIĆ, Bishop of Požega (CROATIA)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Diarmuid MARTIN, Archbishop of Dublin (IRELAND)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Frédéric RUBWEJANGA, Bishop of Kibungo (Kibungo, RWANDA)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Wilton Daniel GREGORY, Archbishop of Atlanta (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Edward Gabriel RISI, O.M.I., Bishop of Keimoes-Upington (REP. OF SOUTH AFRICA)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Paul Mandla KHUMALO, C.M.M., Bishop of Witbank (REP. OF SOUTH AFRICA)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Lewis ZEIGLER, Bishop of Gbarnga, President of the Episcopal Conference (LIBERIA)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Stanislav ZVOLENSKÝ, Titular Bishop of Novasinna, Auxiliary of Bratislava-Trnava (SLOVAKIA)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Prakash MALLAVARAPU, Bishop of Vijayawada (INDIA)
- Rev. Father Carlos Alfonso AZPIROZ COSTA, O.P., Master General of the Mendicant Friars
- H.E. Most. Rev. Gabriel MBILINGI, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Lwena (ANGOLA)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Leon MAŁY, Titular Bishop of Tabunia, Auxiliary of Lviv dei Latini (UKRAINE)
- H. Em. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, Archbishop of Cape Coast (GHANA)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Thomas SAVUNDARANAYAGAM, Bishop of Jaffna (SRI LANKA)

Below are the summaries of the interventions:

- H. Em. Card. Angelo SODANO, Secretary of State (VATICAN CITY)

The work document of our Assembly, in number. 85, invited us to reflect on the relationship between Eucharist and ecclesial unity. Many Fathers have already spoken about this important topic, underlining its various aspects.
On my part, in the first place, I would like to underline that all of the Eucharistic liturgy leads us to reinforcing the bonds of unity between us. For this, the prayer for the Pope is important, which is present in every Holy Mass. The prayer for the Bishop is important, Pastor of the particular church where the Eucharist is celebrated. The embrace for peace among those present is important, to heal all the eventual wounds to the unity that can exist in local communities. And, often, there are many divisions even among us, the ministers of the Lord, in the same religious institutes, in the diocese with different ethnic groups. The Eucharist is always an invitation to the unity of all the disciples of Christ; even more, it is always an agent of unity, due to the unifying grace it communicates to us.
However, a delicate problem is the attitude that we must show towards our separated brothers, who desire to participate in the Eucharist celebrated in our Holy Church. Here, I have heard different considerations concerning this. On my part, however, I would like to recall that, to favor unity with our separated brothers, we must not be divided ourselves. And the sure way avoid division is faithfulness to the current discipline of the Church.
Pertaining to this, the discipline is clear: it suffices to read the last Encyclical by the late Pope John Paul II “Ecclesia de Eucharistia”. There is an entire chapter on the Eucharist and ecclesial communion.
In no. 44, for example, we can read:
“Precisely because the Church's unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord's sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty, in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council.
I would like nonetheless to reaffirm what I said in my Encyclical Letter “Ut Unum Sint”after having acknowledged the impossibility of Eucharistic sharing: “And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so 'with one heart'”.
In number. 45, the same Encyclical recalls:
“While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an intercommunion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established”.
In this passage of the Encyclical, the Pontifical Magisterium uses the term “intercommunion”, which should be explained, but which, if understood well, can lead to the understanding of the extraordinary characteristic of communion given to those who are not Catholic.
Our Instrumentum laboris resolved the problem placing the quotation marks around the term “intercommunion” at the end of no. 86!
In conclusion, I would like to say that faithfulness to the discipline of the Church even on such a delicate point as this is a guarantee of unity between us, as we wait for realization of Christ’s prayer: “Ut unum sint” (Jn 17:21).

[00273-02.03] [IN215] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Czeslaw KOZON, Bishop of København (Copenhagen, DENMARK)

The countries of the Northern Episcopal Conference constitute a territory with a very vast diaspora, with approximately 200 000 Catholics distributed differently in the various nations, with a greater concentration in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Per se, these countries are prevalently Lutheran, even if, in a different way, secularized.
One of the main challenges is represented by the great geographical distances. Despite this, in the majority of parishes, celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday is possible, with the participation of about 20-30 percent of the faithful. Even if the number of priests is relatively high in relationship to the number of believers, this is a minimum required by the large distances.
In these out of the ordinary conditions, the Pastors and the faithful of the North live the same experiences as those described by many other Northern and Western European countries.
The Sunday Eucharistic celebration continues to be the central liturgical manifestation, but often it is the only one to unite persons in church. In some places, there are many persons who go to Mass on week days and interest for Eucharistic Adoration is slowly growing.
As for liturgical celebrations, the expectations of the faithful are rather high, and they know how to appreciate a well-prepared and lived out liturgy. The participation of the faithful in the preparation and realization of liturgical celebrations is very good in some places. However, more possibilities for formation and more proposals for courses to better the knowledge and the meaning of the liturgy are needed. Most people have an authentic understanding of the Eucharist, however one must underline and deepen more, through catechesis, the aspect of mystery and the sacrificial characteristic of the Holy Mass. Catholics of the Northern countries also must face the challenge of uniting faith and life, so that participation in the Eucharist may lead them to a life of commitment in the Church and in society. The practice of confession as well leaves a lot to be desired. However, hardly any serious liturgical abuses can be found.
The faithful ask to be heard and taken into consideration regarding many questions; however their respect for the clergy is great and simple. The activity of the lay collaborators, even in conducting the celebration, does not confuse the role of the laity and of the ecclesiastic persons.
From an ecumenical point of view, despite a generally positive atmosphere, the Catholic Church perceives a reinforced incomprehension concerning the question of intercommunion. The Catholic point of view on this is considered backward by other Christians, and this opinion unfortunately is shared also by some Catholics.
We would also like to recall the painful situation of the many divorced and remarried Catholics who cannot take part in Communion.
Despite these challenges and problems, the Eucharist in the North is celebrated as a feast of faith, which unites communities and that is a strong element constituting the Church.

[00203-02.03] [IN168] [Original text: German]

- H. B. Michel SABBAH, Patriarch of Jerusalem of Latin Rite, President of the Episcopal Conference (ARAB COUNTRIES)

1. The Eucharist was instituted in Jerusalem, and in Jerusalem all the mystery of Redemption took place. Today, the Eucharist, the real presence, is truly there in all the sanctuaries, in all the parish churches in the cities and villages. But at the Cenacle itself, for centuries, the Eucharistic presence has not been there.
More so, the Holy Land today, and for many long years, is a land of conflict, of hate, of death, land of flowing blood and violated human dignity. At the same time, it is searching for peace and searching for God, the only source of true peace. But as we wait, there rules the arbitrary power of man that violates himself and his brother by making the land of God merely a land of men.
2. With this in mind, I would like to speak about an aspect of the social dimension of the Eucharist (Instrumentum laboris, no. 79). The Eucharist is nourishment of the soul and source of the force and of Christian presence active in society.
Re-education in the Eucharist is necessary, to tell the Christian in the Holy Land that adoration, mass and communion, are not exercises in piety, but a way of communion with the parish and, beyond the parish, with the whole city or village and with the whole country. A re-education that helps Christians, who are in a minority, come out of their complex of smallness and of being minoritary, and to move from a piety of refuge to a piety that sends out on the mission. Adorers are needed, that re-enter the world to contribute to its construction, to become the builders, not remaining as weak people, full of only protests and complaints and miners asking for protection.
By the Eucharist and adoration, Christians achieve the “measure of Christ” and in being true adorers they take a place no other can give them. By their adoration and their faith in the real presence, Christians make God present in his society and where there is conflict. And, with the presence of God, everyone, great and small, strong and weak, will have equal relations as human persons all equally objects of God’s love, who is Creator and Redeemer, and altogether they will find, once again, the paths that lead to peace and reconciliation.

[00206-02.02] [IN170] [Original text: French]

- H. Em. Card. Vinko PULJIĆ, Archbishop of Vrhbosna, Sarajevo, President of the Episcopal Conference (BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA)

This Synod of Bishops could contribute to the renewal of faith, to the awareness, the responsibility and the respect of the most worthy Eucharistic celebration.
Before us there is a dynamism of life, in which the education process of the single person and of the community unfolds, on different levels of daily life.
I will confirm this dwelling on several questions:
1. The priest as the subject of the Eucharistic celebration
It seems to us sometimes that our priests are tired, without enthusiasm for their service. How can the youth, in choosing their way in life, become interested in the sacerdotal vocation when they frequently find their parish priests tired, idle and boring.
For which reason should the Holy Mass be celebrated more than 3 times a day. Human nature is not supposed to be strained. How can the priest celebrate more than 3 Masses a day and remain always fresh and concentrated on what is happening before his eyes. The risk is that all becomes daily work like the one in the office or in business. Days and years pass by in sacerdotal service without any worthy fruits or results. Where are the fruits?
It seems to me that priests are frequently at risk. Living day by day with others in this millennium which is in the process of secularism, materialism, consumerism, etc., the sense of the sacred is also lost.
2. The sense of the sacred
Today, values are disorganized. The sense of the sacred is obscured and the sense of sin has become relative. What would sin be, today, for new generations?
The Eucharistic silence, for priests and not only priests, could be something extraordinary to interiorize with all the sacred practice and signs.
It is necessary to prepare oneself for the Eucharist. It is only with the dignity of sacred practice and with a profound spirituality of the Eucharistic mystery that one can receive the fruits of Eucharist.
The Eucharist is also thankfulness for the Divine Banquet, for divine communication between the Creator and the Creature. Therefore, with the Eucharist we nourish our spiritual life. Personal decency and promptness to receive God himself, then preparation for the Holy mystery and finally gratefulness for the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharistic holy mysteries are the values that the priest should acquire in order to save himself and to transmit the fruits of the Eucharist to others who trust and who seek God in the Eucharist.
3. Divine Word
“So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first” (Mt 5:23-24).
How can men celebrate Eucharistic holy mysteries with decency while they envy and hate their neighbors.
Without forgiveness and peace, there is no Eucharistic fruit, and the Eucharist cannot be celebrated in a dignified way.
4. In addition, how can a Christian participate at the Lords Banquet while he is committing injustice
I asked a catholic who is a diplomat at the European Union in my country: how can you receive the Body of Christ if you behave this way with poor people? He answered me: to gain money.
5. Sacerdotal vocation
Jesus has ordered us to pray for vocations. In families where prayer and adoration are practiced, there sacerdotal vocations are born. Decency and the values of priesthood are born within one’s own family. May the Church of the family be the first school of vocations, but is also the temple where the decency of Eucharist is cared for. In the youth who value the Eucharist, there the vocation to priesthood germinates.

[00210-02.03] [IN174] [Original text: Italian]

- Rev. Julián CARRÓN, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation (SPAIN)

The situation of contemporary man is riddled with complications, but none manage to uproot hope from the heart. The man of today will take the Christian proposal seriously if he perceives it as a significant reply to the cry of his human need.
1. “For this is how God loved the world: he gave His only Son” (Jn 3:16). The summit of this gratuitous initiative of the Father is constituted by the death and resurrection of Christ, through which Christ reconciled men with God, making possible true communion with Him.
Through Eucharistic action, perpetual remembrance of His love, Christ Himself becomes contemporary with us and compels us to “live not any more for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life” (1Cor 5:14-15). The man who welcomes with faith the gift of The Body and Blood of the Lord is converted into a new creature (2 Cor 5:17) and forms part of a unique unity, (Ga 3:28),which flows from our all sharing in the one loaf”.(1 Cor 10:17).
2. “The Eucharist - said Don Giussani - is the supreme confirmation of the method that God has established with His creature: to make Himself present within a visible and tangible sign, thereby making it possible to experience Him.” According to its sacramental nature the Church has influence in history because it awakens and educates people who allow themselves to be involved in the novelty of the life of Christ and therefore can communicate to humanity, their brothers and sisters.
3. In the face of the challenge of our times, the sacrament of the Eucharist becomes indispensable in all the effectiveness of its fruits of true communion and of new humanity. So the light of Christ can shine in His witnesses, so that people of our times find reasons to believe and hope for the fulfillment of the promises inscribed in the depths of their hearts, manifested and fully carried out in the Eucharistic self-giving of Christ.

[00223-02.03] [IN187] [Original text: Spanish]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Carmelo Dominador F. MORELOS, Archbishop of Zamboanga (PHILIPPINES)

In the Far East, save for the Philippines and East Timor, Catholics are overwhelmed in numbers by peoples of other faith traditions. In the Philippines, proclaiming Christ is endangered by creeping secularism and the adverse impact of globalization.
For most people in our part of the world, the face of Christ can only be contemplated in the life witness of the community. The Christ we present to them is the life they see. When celebrating the Eucharist, we affirm our willingness to give witness to Christ, to thank God for this wonderful opportunity to be “eucharists” too. An authentic Christian thanks and praises God not just when a crisis is past. He thanks God during a crisis, while actually carrying the cross. In our Churches, more and more, the call to witness to the faith is finding expression in the building up of Eucharistic Communities-the Basic Ecclesial Communities. These are small communities of Christians who gather around the Word and the Eucharist. This life of grace in the Eucharist is the "guarantee of authentic ecclesial communion and the source of moral life, characterized by good works." The resulting unity, founded on love, finds fulfilment in the love and service of those outside the community, especially the less fortunate.
Improved catechesis; empowerment of the lay; growth in priestly and religious vocations; commitment to peace and justice are undeniable signs of the vitality of a community centered on the Eucharist. Where a Sunday Eucharist is reserved for children, with creative celebration, not only is a solid foundation laid in the faith life of the children, they communicate their faith to their parents at home.

[00226-02.03] [IN190] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. António Augusto DOS SANTOS MARTO, Bishop of Viseu (PORTUGAL)

The decline in attending Sunday Mass is a sign of weakening of the faith and of affection towards the Eucharist. That is why one can speak of a “Eucharistic need” based not on an incertitude regarding the presentation of doctrine... but on a Eucharistic practice which calls for a renewed attitude of love” for Christ. (Preface of Lineamenta)
How can we reawaken Eucharistic amazement, the sense of wonder before the Eucharist, if the beauty in it can’t be discovered? In post-modern culture, dominated by relativism with regard to truth and goodness, yet still fascinated by the aesthetic, beauty is truly a way or a doorway to discover the Eucharist as a mystery of beauty. In fact, the Eucharist is the highest icon of the beauty of God revealed in Christ, because He is “of all men...the most handsome”(Psa 45:2), in the totality of his risen presence and in the plenitude of his mystery: the beauty of love that gives itself, redeems and transfigures us, reveals to us the gaze of the Father that permanently creates us, and makes us good and beautiful. Using the words of His Holiness, this is not only a theological problem but also a pastoral one, which must offer to contemporary man the encounter with the beauty of faith.
All of this implies a project of evangelization of ample contemplative and missionary breath, which flows from the Eucharist, in regard to which I consider the following points essential:
a) To show the existing relationship between the Eucharist and the deep aspirations of contemporary man’s heart;
b) to start once again from Christ, going to the heart of faith through the first announcement;
c) To promote the quality and the beauty of the Eucharistic celebration as a privileged moment of evangelization of a mystagogical type;
d) The Eucharist is also for the world. The Eucharistic Assembly, beyond being a public witness of faith is also a bearer of Eucharistic culture, of personal and social attitudes and behaviour; the experience of fraternity, the spirit of reconciliation and peace, the sense of sharing and of solidarity, the strength of hope, the festive dimension of life... These are human attitudes that configure a Eucharistic spirituality, indispensable contribution to the building of a civilization of Beauty and of Love.

[00227-02.05] [IN191] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Jean-Claude MAKAYA LOEMBE, Bishop of Pointe-Noire (REP. OF CONGO)

Since 1992, the young persons of Central Africa have been living in a pitiful way the downfall of the social structures that guarantee their education and the fact that the region and the ethnicity in their country have become pretexts for a closing in on self and the exclusion of others. Faced with the downfall of their country, due to the violence and delinquency of adults, many young people have turned to drugs, alcohol, prostitution, violence... The obvious consequence in these young people is the loss of moral and spiritual standards. This is why many young people have turned to sects, where they hope to find easy solutions to their material and spiritual problems.
The young need, as mentioned in no. 79 of the Instrumentum laboris, the “constructing of a society where communion, solidarity, freedom, respect for the person, hope and trust in God prevail”.
Within the Episcopal Conference of Congo, we feel that Eucharistic spirituality is a source of energy that the young persons cannot find in the spiritual journeys proposed by the churches, called “de réveil” or sects.
In understanding that the Eucharistic Spirituality gives answers to the culture of life, our young peoples can learn to reflect serenely on their boy-girl relationships, their sexuality and their needs.
Our young persons are capable of living a deep relationship with Christ in an impulse of adoration and to live the fruits obtained in this embracing of the presence of Christ.
We hope that this Synod will dedicate a paragraph, where some precise indications will be given on this Eucharistic Spirituality, of which we had a foretaste in the theme developed during the World Youth Day in Cologne: “We have come to adore Him”.

[00230-02.03] [IN194] [Original text: French]

- H. Em. Card. Renato Raffaele MARTINO, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (VATICAN CITY)

In this Synod, I believe the profound bond between the Eucharist and charity should be studied in depth, emphasizing all the enormous potentialities that it contains to give sense and force to the Christian witness in the social and political realities of our time. I would refer in particular to the dramatic situation of extreme poverty that afflicts millions of men and women and entire nations, despite the fact that richnesst continues to increase in our globalized planet, a situation that assumes, today, the proportions of a real and proper worldwide social problem.
In this context, special attention should be placed on the relation between the Eucharist and the use of the goods of the earth that the Church considers as originally destined to all. To put emphasis on the relationship between the Eucharist and social and political charity evidently does not mean to propose undue politicization of our Eucharists, but rather to favor the complete truth of the Eucharistic mystery in all its inexhaustible richness capable of inspiring and promoting the social and political dimension of charity also.
The problem regarding the relationship between the Eucharist and peace lies along the same lines, so incisively emphasized by the lately beloved John Paul II in the Mane Nobiscum, Domine: “More than ever, our troubled world, which began the new Millennium with the spectre of terrorism and the tragedy of war, demands that Christians learn to experience the Eucharist as a great school of peace”, sheltered, however, from undue world-political interferences.
I permit myself to suggest that, these themes being real today, this Synod could propose to the Holy Father to make public an organic intervention, fruit of his high magisterium, onthe new themes that concern peace in charity, the militance for peace, the just relationship between Eucharist and peace, the spirituality of peace.

[00261-02.02] [IN203] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Antun ŠKVORČEVIĆ, Bishop of Požega (CROATIA)

The privilege that the Croatian people had for more than a millennium, with the permission of the Holy See, to celebrate the holy Mass in Latin rite, but still in their own language, contributed a lot to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council accepting the celebration of the Latin liturgy in national languages. The above mentioned privilege has, among other benefits, helped towards an active participation of the faithful at the liturgy and promoted a fruitful deepening of the relations between the Croatian people and the Successor of Peter, as also between the Church of this same people and the universal Church with its unity within diversity.
On the base of this historical experience, Croatian Catholics accepted with enthusiasm the renovation of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, not knowing that sense of nostalgia for the liturgy in Latin language, which created serious problems in certain European Catholic environments, which are still unresolved.
The preparation process of the new liturgy books in vernacular languages is not a merely technical work. In the measure that the Episcopal Conferences, with their experts and specialists, endeavor to provide the liturgical text, sending it, in a second moment, for the recognitio to the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, they promote a communion between the particular churches and the Apostolic See of Rome, as also the universal Church, who finds its summit in the Eucharistic celebrations. When the abovementioned Dicastery does not have a sufficient number of competent experts, particularly for the different languages of less numerous peoples, such as the Croatian one, it is necessary to intensify the collaboration with the Episcopal Conferences, in order to avoid problems at the level of the particular churches and reproaches of centralism in the elaboration of the liturgical texts.
With regard to the liturgical precepts, these are necessary for the rite-celebration, while the rite leads to the Mystery which one enters into through faith; thus, every abuse in the liturgy must be corrected. On the other hand, there are regulations that do not have the same abovementioned significance. So it is required to re-examine if these are all necessary and achievable.

[00229-02.02] [IN193] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Diarmuid MARTIN, Archbishop of Dublin (IRELAND)

The Eucharist constitutes an important force in counteracting the deep sources of hopelessness today. Increased secularization has as one of its most insidious effects an undermining of hope because its horizons are too narrow to embrace a vision that is universal and complete. Hopeless is generated by the scale of the problem of achieving justice in our world and the certainty that our own human efforts can only touch a fraction of it.
In a world marked by so many anxieties, Eucharist is a sign and a message of hope. The Christian who celebrates the Eucharist knows that the values of the current world are not those which endure for ever.
Eucharist is presence of Jesus in history, in the history of salvation and in the ongoing evolution of human history as it moves towards its fulfilment in Jesus Christ who will "come again". We celebrate Christ's death and resurrection in the midst of the realities of this world as we await his coming in glory.
We recognise the Eucharist as the "pledge of future glory" knowing that our communion with the Lord in the Eucharist is a pledge and a foretaste of our ultimate encounter and communion with him. Eucharist opens towards and anticipates the future.
In a society marked by increased secularisation there is need to give much greater place in our catechesis and in our parishes to formation in faith. In so many of our communities today we can no longer presume faith. The seed of faith needs nourishment, not just in the early years of the life of the Christian in the traditional catechesis of young people, but at every stage in life. The rapidity of social change means that faith formation of adults is more and more urgent to accompany them as they try, day by day and year by year, to live their Christian commitment in a changing world.
The lay person imbued with Eucharistic spirit will be present in the realities of the secular world with a capacity to look towards the values that endure and to indicate the foundations of a hope which springs from a recognition of Eucharist as revelation and presence in our midst of God's gratuitous love for us in Jesus Christ who gave himself up for us.

[00231-02.03] [IN195] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Frédéric RUBWEJANGA, Bishop of Kibungo (Kibungo, RWANDA)

I would like to underline an often mentioned fact about post-modern secularized culture that it refuses to face and integrate in its vision of the world the daily experience of suffering and of death.
These two realities are hidden by the extraordinary technological discoveries that man glorifies himself, but resist this type of superficial treatment.
The same experience of suffering and death is lived differently by man where he is less technologically advanced; it is accepted by him as a reality, sometimes even as a fatality. Vatican Council II mentions an imbalance that, finally, is explained by man’s sin.
The Eucharist, understood as the actualization of the sacrifice of the Cross, is the fully indicated remedy for this sin and the mentality it emerges from. In these conditions, we cannot celebrate serenely the saving death of Jesus without allowing ourselves to be questioned by dramatic situations of so many men and women.
The Paschal Mystery that the sacrament of the Eucharist allows us to live intensely should make us continuously sensitive to the misery of others. Here, the interpellation of Saint John Chrysostome has been quoted, who shows the paradox of caring for the Body of Christ by adorning the altar, but without caring for the poor. One should be done without forgetting the other.
Eleven years ago, in 1994, the Church in Rwanda and the people of Rwanda lived genocide and unbelievable massacres. The media spread these events and the world was touched. We have benefitted from help from the Holy See, Caritas Internationalis and the Caritas of the sister Churches of the North. We are deeply thankful for this. The courageous and pertinent intervention by Pope John Paul II was especially appreciated. The Pope was the first to set the alarm off, to call things by their true names and to openly denounce the genocide committed. The International Community hesitated in speaking about genocide so as not to have to intervene. In this intervention by Pope John Paul II, we have a model of ecclesial sensitivity that the Eucharistic celebration should urge us to imitate.
Also, it is a fact that certain persons were killed in our churches.
After a period of consternation, there was a question of celebrating the Eucharist in these profaned churches. But some voices raised themselves to oppose it. Because, they said, these places recalled those horrible things.
With the necessary tact we, the ones in charge, led the faithful to understand that the Eucharistic celebration, far from breaking their mourning, supported it and clarified it. Because, in celebrating the death of the Innocent Jesus, we joined the drama of the innocent who perished.
These Eucharistic celebrations progressively returned and become today more important than before the genocide. There have been a few desertions, and the challenges never lack, especially the one of reconciliation, but the vast majority of survivors of the national drama have understood, better than ever, the need for the sacrament of the Eucharist that gathers and seals our ties of broken brotherhood. Among the promising signs, there is the increase in the devotion to Our Lady of Kibeho, whose apparitions have been recognized by the local Bishop, for the past four years. The central message of these apparitions was conversion while there is still time. After the genocide, this message was understood as a premonition that the Mother of the Word addressed to us, twelve years before the catastrophe. Thus, the Virgin Mary is always next to her Son who gives Himself in sacrifice for the salvation of men, His brothers.

[00228-02.03] [IN192] [Original text: French]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Wilton Daniel GREGORY, Archbishop of Atlanta (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

Increasingly, the faithful expect better homilies from celebrants at the Sunday Eucharist. Bishops must lead by our own good example as well as our admonitions to improve the quality of Catholic preaching at the Sunday Eucharist. Ritual precision alone will not bring back those who do not attend Sunday Mass.

[00235-02.02] [IN199] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Edward Gabriel RISI, O.M.I., Bishop of Keimoes-Upington (REP. OF SOUTH AFRICA)

In the Conference area of Southern Africa (SACBC) we have discovered that the role of the small faith-based community is essential in the preparation for and the celebration of the liturgy and also the place where the gift of the Spirit is lived out.
We see evidence of this particularly in Lectionary based catechesis and small Christian communities which prepare for the Sunday celebration by reading and praying the Sunday scriptures beforehand. These communities form part of the parish liturgical groups who prepare for the Sunday liturgy beforehand.
These are ways which empower the faithful for a fuller and more meaningful participation in the Eucharistic liturgy. In such an atmosphere there is little fear of the distinction between the ordained priesthood and the baptismal priesthood being blurred.
However, because of the shortage of priests, there are many communities who only celebrate mass once a month, or, once every two months. In such instances the laity prepare with enthusiasm (as described above) to celebrate Sunday liturgies, sometimes with Communion, other times without.
We notice that the most sacred part of the liturgy, the Eucharistic Prayer, is the least attractive part of the Sunday liturgy. Although it is the central part of the Eucharist, the climax, it has proved to be the anti-climax. The priest does it alone and the laity change from active to passive participation.
We would propose that there be some form of responsorial participation which allows the people to participate more actively than simply by a respectful silence. We are not proposing that the role of the celebrant be diminished but rather that the people be given a role by which they support the celebrant and enhance their participation.

[00224-02.04] [IN188] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Paul Mandla KHUMALO, C.M.M., Bishop of Witbank (REP. OF SOUTH AFRICA)

It had always been assumed that there was a sense of mystery in the Tridentine celebration of the Mass. With the reform of Vatican II, when meaningful participation of the liturgy was opened to the people, the myth of mystagogy was exposed. Nobody opposed mystagogy. It simply did not happen. The resultant absence of the sense of mystery was not the result of the introduction of the vernacular in the liturgy; rather, the introduction of the new Order of the Mass and the use of the vernacular made it obvious that the sense of mystery was absent.
Our task is the development of a spirit of adoration and worship. The concentration on abuses develops a negative atmosphere and does not help us discover the mystogogical dimension of the Eucharistic celebration.
The challenge before us is to learn more about God in our communities. A guiding word comes from John 15:15: "I call you friends because I have made known to you every thing I learned from my Father."
We have also observed that the sign of peace in its present position in the liturgy of the Mass easily overshadows the faction rite and communion itself. There is among us a strong preference to adapt the usage referred to in the Instrumentum Laboris in number 50, for the insertion of this particular rite at the point before the presentation of gifts.

[00225-02.02] [IN189] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Lewis ZEIGLER, Bishop of Gbarnga, President of the Episcopal Conference (LIBERIA)

I am referring to No.6 of the Instrumentum Laboris which talks about the Eucharist in the Various Situations in the Church.
- During the bloody civil war, women, children and men suffered. They were made to live in displaced and refugees in subhuman conditions.
- The Bishops, Priests, Religious and other lay people administered to them in the displaced camps in Liberia. In their suffering, we experienced the broken Christ, who is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is our joy, our hope, peace, support and courage in time of trial.
- The Church is thankful to the Bishops, especially those in the region, the Holy Father, the United Nations and the International Community for coming to our aid. The war is now over and the Church is now growing.
- Attendance at Mass is high, with the youth and young adults and old people in the lead. These make up the majority at the reception of Holy Communion on week days and Sundays. Our catechumen classes are being well attended.
Now we are engaged in catechesis:
Marriage and family life
Ministry to the youth,
Helping lapsed Catholics to come back to Church.
But there are problems:
There is the shortage of priests for the growing Catholic population,
There are long distances to cover on bad roads to reach a parish or outstation
There polygamous marriages and those who are living together as husbands and wives without the thought of getting married, making it difficult for them to receive Holy Communion.

[00232-02.03] [IN196] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Stanislav ZVOLENSKÝ, Titular Bishop of Novasinna, Auxiliary of Bratislava-Trnava (SLOVAKIA)

I speak for myself and in reference to number 72 of the Instrumentum Laboris ascertaining that the “life of grace received through the Eucharist is the guarantee of authentic ecclesial communion and the source of the moral life, characterized by good works. The Eucharist is the basis of righteous behavior for the person who has this vital union with Christ” (cf. Instrumentum Laboris, 72) and indicating the link between the three dimensions of the Christian life which are liturgia-martyria-diakonia, that is to say the efficient bond between the fact that the faithful receive fruitfully Christ living in the Eucharist, committing himself to bear witness to Christ in the temporal reality and collaborate in the communion built up through the service of charity (cf. IL 72). It can be said that the measure of the real influence in life of the societies is directly proportionate to the measure by which the Christian faithful remain united to Christ.
In this context, I would like to mention two realities of my homeland. We place our hope, also for the future, in the blessed tradition of the so-called “first Fridays”. In all parishes and in the days before the first Friday of the month, many faithful, first of all, reconcile themselves with the Lord in the sacrament of Penance and then fruitfully receive Christ in the Eucharist. The second reality is the fact that the faithful who do not receive holy communion also participate in the Sunday liturgy, and are nourished by the bread of the Word of Christ. However, it seems that the Lord enriches and reinforces the dimension of their life called martyria, that is the concrete moral Christian life. Here space is opened for a profound formation of the conscience of the faithful. Because, as we are immersed in the “mysterium iniquitatis” we are necessarily needing to contemplate, adore and receive the Eucharistic mystery.

[00233-02.02] [IN197] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Prakash MALLAVARAPU, Bishop of Vijayawada (INDIA)

In India, the Catholic Church is a credible presence, bearing witness to Jesus Christ and His Good News. It is the fruit of communion with Lord experienced at the breaking of Word and breaking of the Bread during the Eucharist. Given the small size of the Catholic Community, that is about 1.8% of the total, and that it is not possible for most of the faithful to frequent the Eucharistic Table, it is actually the faith experience of the Lord that sustains them in their life. Through effective evocation, Eucharistic liturgy, which is the paschal mystery celebrated and proclaimed, should continue to sustain this experience.
The twelve apostles at the Last Supper have tangibly heard, seen and touched the Lord, the same Lord who was with them and with whom they were before the event of the Last Supper. They understood and experienced the Lord more deeply after each of their encounters with Him after the resurrection. What they passed on, the breaking of the Bread and blessing the Cup as a memorial of his death and resurrection, helped the believers to experience the Lord as source of salvation. Our people today should be invited, as the first disciples were invited by the Lord, to come and see, to hear and touch the Lord.
Today's generation characterized by a scientific mentality and devoid of the sense of transcendence, seems to say, 'we can believe only what we can see, hear and touch.' The Church has to help these people through the sacred liturgy to see, hear and touch the Lord. This is certainly the action of the Holy Spirit but the liturgy should lead the Community of faith to experience this action of the Spirit! Only then, the doctrinal truths about the Eucharist become tangible experienced truths in real life. The Eucharist can thus become source and summit of a person's life. In the same way, for the community also, the Eucharist becomes the source and summa of her life and mission. When our Catholics do 'not get this experience of the Lord in the Church, they might either seek somewhere or end up in living their life independent of God!
Our liturgy of the Eucharist, with a meaningful and conscious use of indigenous signs and symbols, inculturation, should effectively evoke in our people the experience Eucharist in the context of the daily realities of life. This will lead the people to fulfill the missionary mandate. Therefore, while regulating the liturgical discipline, the ministers presiding over the Eucharist should be given more positive help and direction to be effective instruments to help faithful to meet the Lord!

[00234-02.02] [IN198] [Original text: English]

- Rev. Father Carlos Alfonso AZPIROZ COSTA, O.P., Master General of the Mendicant Friars

St Thomas Aquinas helps us to understand the mystery of the Eucharist from its reality of “memory, presence and anticipation” (past, present and future).
When he talks about religious life, he uses, analogically, the same scheme: religious consecration is prefigured by the holocausts of Old Testament Law; religious consecration is realized in the sacrifice of Christ that becomes present in the Eucharist; religious consecration is, on earth, the anticipation of future goods.
In the Eucharistic Prayer the actions of Jesus are mentioned: He took bread, He blessed it, He broke it and He gave it. In this way we can talk of the life and mission of the religious men and women in the Church and in the world.
By the mercy of God we have been chosen to participate in the life of Jesus. Brother Pierre Claverie OP, whose blood was spilled in Argelia [+ 06/08/1996], used to assert that even more than the loss of the sense of sin we have lost the sense of the love and mercy of God who, in Jesus, has taken us into His arms.
Jesus gives thanks to the Father for our answer to His call, and blesses us. The Church’s confirmation of our profession gives objectivity to the Divine blessing we have received. Jesus’ blessing means that in a world of people without roots, we are rooted in the self-same intimate life of the Trinity.
Everything that in us is not a sign of the transfiguring presence of God is broken (destroyed), so that in this way we may be given by Jesus to the world. In that way we live every day the painful process of purification. Christ died in order to open our eyes and so that death could be overcome by love. Giving is preceded by breaking. In our life and mission we need to pass through the Paschal experience. For that reason it is normal and necessary that there be moments of crisis and purification.
The joy of conversion is born when we recognize our miseries, our unconscious ambitions and at the same time the mercy of the Lord, without which we can do nothing. The fruitfulness of our mission depends on God and the quality of our service is manifested in the quality of our communitarian life, since charity, well understood, begins at home.
Saint Catherine of Siena on her death bed sighed: “Be sure I have given my life for the Holy Church” (cf. Blessed Raimundo de Capua, Vida de Santa Catalina de Siena,, Lib. III c. IV). Like her, we religious men and women offer our own “Eucharistic prayer”: “Eternal God, receive the sacrifice of our life in favour of the Mystical Body of the Holy Church. We have nothing to give you except that which you have given us. Take our hearts and squeeze them over the face of this your Bride” (Cf. Letter to Urban VI, no. 371).

[00237-02.02] [IN201] [Original text: Spanish]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Gabriel MBILINGI, C.S.Sp., Bishop of Lwena (ANGOLA)

1. The Gospel arrived in Angola over five centuries ago. It is a country with a majority of Christians. With the signing of the Peace Treaty in 2002, Angola came out of one of the longest civil wars of the African continent. In fact, a new era of restoration of social, political, economical, cultural and religious life has begun in the country...
2. Angola is a potentially very rich country as to natural resources, it went through and lived the Marxist atheist Communist ideology and it survived a long civil war, with all the consequences to life in society. In this context, evangelization represents a great challenge, a call for conversion and reconciliation. Few priests are there for pastoral assistance and the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist in the various Christian communities especially in the center of the country. There is a great dichotomy between faith and moral life; a tendency to return to pagan practices of fetishist mentality.
3. With such a high percentage of Christians and Catholics in particular, we must ask ourselves how did we live through so many years of civil war? And what fruits did the holy masses the Christians participated in bear? Why isn’t the weight of the Catholic presence felt, through those who occupy relevant places in politics and in the various social activities? These are legitimate even if provocative questions.
4. Angola continues to be a country hungry for material bread but above all for Eucharistic bread; a Eucharist prolonged in life; a Eucharistic communion that leads to true reconciliation, fruit of the love that forgives, just as the love manifested to us by Christ.
5. A) The personal and ecclesial sense of the Eucharist in relationship to the moral life, holiness and the mission in the world should be emphasized.
B) From Eucharistic communion should flow a moral commitment as the source of life to overcome sin, searching for truth, righteousness in conscience and testimony of the evangelical values shadowed by the situation of war.
C) We should insist in catechesis on the bond between the Eucharist and the construction of a just society, through the personal responsibility of each one in active participation in the mission of the Church in the world (cf. No. 74). The Eucharist in our context will be the light, the force and the source of dynamism in spiritual life, of holiness and of the testimony of the faithful (no. 72).

[00262-02.03] [IN204] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Leon MAŁY, Titular Bishop of Tabunia, Auxiliary of Lviv dei Latini (UKRAINE)

I speak for myself and refer to part IV of the Instrumentum laboris no. 76, where we can read “ the Eucharist is the center and the pivotal point of the spiritual life for all the saints”. Among the 18 saints the Instrumentum laboris mentions, as if to create a bridge between them, there is also our Blessed Jozef Bilczewski, linked to Saint John Mary Vianney.
His beatification occurred in Lviv in 2001 when the Servant of God John Paul II visited the Ukraine. It is a noteworthy sign for the Church in the Ukraine, that also this Blessed at the end of the Synod will be placed among the saints by the Holy Father Benedict XVI.
The Blessed Joseph Bilczewski wrote deep reflections on the Eucharist and was called the theologian of the Eucharist.
I would like to point out some of his thoughts, still valid today.
1. Adoration does not suffice for Eucharistic worship, but should be united to a deep study of Catechesis. Therefore, the mystagogical texts are useful to employ in order to learn to read the signs of the rich symbolism used by the first Christians.
2. We must look for and ever deeper participation in the Holy Mass. As regards this, we should mention that even Vatican Council II, in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium no. 55 suggests the same thing: “That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended”. The recommendation is not new at all: it was also present in the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII, chap. 6) in the Apostolic Letter Certiores effecti by Pope Benedict XIV and then in Mediator Dei by Pius XII.
For the past forty years since Vatican Council II, it seems that this indication “the faithful... , receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended” has not been fully understood yet. At times the hosts are not consecrated for the faithful, but are taken from a tabernacle always full of already consecrated hosts.
However, the recommendation by the Council Fathers contains, in itself, a deep sign of the Church, her dimension as the People of God as well as the Mystical Body of Christ. The People of God has gathered around the altar from where they receive the Body of Christ.
Not by chance, some Fathers from the Council, in their propositions, underlined the expression “valde commendatur; perfectior partecipatio” and “ex eodem Sacrificio”.

[00263-02.03] [IN205] [Original text: Italian]

- H. Em. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, Archbishop of Cape Coast (GHANA)

Vatican Council II taught that the Eucharistic sacrifice of Jesus is “the source and summit of Christian life” (LG 11). From this teaching, Pope John Paul II fashioned the theme for the present Synod on the Eucharist: “The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church”; and it has also inspired the choice of theme for the celebration of a 3rd Eucharistic Congress in Ghana, as “The Eucharist as source and summit of the Life of the Church in Ghana as Family of God”.
When, after the Synod of Bishops for Africa, Pope John Paul II accepted the Synod’s recommendation to see the Church in Africa as Family of God, he said: “... the new evangelisation will thus aim at building up the Church as Family... ..., an expression of the Church’s nature particularly appropriate for Africa” (EA #63). He explained further, “...this image emphasizes care for others, solidarity, warmth in human relationships, acceptance, dialogue and trust.” Accordingly, he exhorted the African Church to avoid “all ethnocentrism and excessive particularism” and to nurture “reconciliation and true communion between different ethnic groups, solidarity and the sharing of personnel and resources... ... without undue ethnic considerations” (ibid).
The Church in Ghana recognizes in these words of the Holy Father the formulation of a new programme of life and mission for the Aftican Church. But, with fratricidal wars still raging across her borders, with tribal politics still stalking the exercise of good governance and with an increasing disregard for the poor in her midst, she also recognizes how, after ten (10) years, so little of this exhortation has been lived. Accordingly, in her celebration of the Year of the Eucharist, the Church in Ghana revisited the exhortation of the Pope and turned to “Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world, Bread for a new life” (as the Eucharistic Congress of the Jubilee Year proclaimed him to be) for help. The climax of the year’s celebration will be the gathering of the Church in Ghana in a National Eucharistic Congress in November.
Seeing how much the Lord himself feeds and sustains his people for their journeys (cfr. Israel in Ex.12; 16 & Jos.5:10-12; Elijah in Kg.19:5-10 and the apostles in Mt.26:30; Mk.14:26), it is the prayer of the Bishops of Ghana that, in the celebration of the Year of the Eucharist, the Lord would help those faithful, who do not approach the Eucharistic table of the Lord, to surmount whatever obstacles hold them back, so that the Eucharistic Congress would be a veritable family feast “a fountain of salvation from which all will derive the family virtues of the Pope’s exhortation”.
Additionally, the Bishops of Ghana, out of pastoral compassion, will strengthen their four Provincial Tribunals with priests and lay people, who are knowledgeable about Ghana’s traditions and customary practices. These will study cases of those faithful, who cannot approach the Lord’s table because of:
- one customary practice or the other,
- unjust demands of our patrilineal and matrilineal family systems on spouses,
- the sheer wickedness or the adamant religious stance of a spouse,
and make recommendations to the Bishops about cases, for which the Bishops may apply to the pertinent offices in the Vatican for one dispensation or the other. The Bishops wish to use the medium of this Synod to appeal to the pertinent offices in the Vatican, to which these request for dispensation will come, for understanding.

[00264-02.03] [IN206] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Thomas SAVUNDARANAYAGAM, Bishop of Jaffna (SRI LANKA)

The Eucharist reveals the Christian meaning of life at every occasion, especially when we are faced with difficulties, even danger to life. In the early Church the martyrs and saints received their courage to defend their faith because they had the Eucharist to give them strength. Throughout the history of the Church, whenever Catholics had to suffer oppression and harassments they turned to the Eucharist which provided the power and the courage to withstand these difficulties. In my own country, Sri Lanka, an island in the Indian Ocean, which was recently lashed by the “Tsunami” tidal wave and killed 40,000 people, a civil war has been going on for the last 20 years or more. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country: 72% of people belong to the Buddhist Religion and the Catholics constitute only the 7% of the total population.
The civil war between the government and the Tamil speaking minorities, who claim the right for autonomy and self-determination, has brought in much suffering. It is estimated that 75,000 civilians have been killed; 30,000 soldiers and militants have lost their lives and nearly 250,000 have been displaced or gone abroad for safety. Bishops, priest and Religious along with the people were displaced and endured much hardship. What gave them the courage to bear these sufferings is the power received from celebrating the Eucharist. Displaced from their towns and villages they continued to celebrate holy Eucharist, not only to struggle for their liberation, but also to work tirelessly for Peace and the cessation of hostilities. The Year of the Eucharist was very well observed by the people, with great enthusiasm in the country.
We thank the late Holy Father for the Year of the Eucharist and the present Pope for the wonderful conclusion with the XI Bishops Synod. May it lead May it lead to a flourishing of the Eucharistic Spirituality in the Church.

[00265-02.02] [IN207] [Original text: English]


Accredited journalists are informed that on Thursday 13 October 2005, at 12:45 p.m., in the John Paul II Conference Hall of the Holy See Press Office, the Second Press Conference will be held on the works of the XI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (Relatio post disceptationem).

The following will intervene:

● H.Em. Card. Francis Arinze
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
● H. Em. Card. Juan Sandoval Íñiguez
Archbishop of Guadalajara (Mexico)
● H. Em Card. Telesphore Placidus Toppo
Archbishop of Ranchi (India)
● H.Exc. Msg. John Patrick Foley
Titular Archbishop of Neapolis of Proconsolari
President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
President of the Information Commission
● H.Exc. Msg. Sofron Stefan Mudry, O.S.B.M.
Bishop Emeritus of Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine)
Vice-President of the Information Commission


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