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


18 - 11.10.2005





At 4:30 p.m. today, Tuesday 11 October 2005, with the prayer Adsumus, the Fourteenth General Congregation began for the Auditio of the Fraternal Delegates and the continuation of the interventions of the Synod Fathers in the Hall on the Synodal topic: The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.

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

At the opening of this Fourteenth General Congregation, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, H. Exc.Most Rev. Msg. Nikola ETEROVIĆ recalled the 43rd anniversary of the opening of the II Vatican Council and the liturgical remembrance of the blessed Pope John XXIII.


In this Fourteenth General Congregation the following fraternal Delegates intervened:

- H.E. JOHANNIS (Zizioulas), Metropolitan of Pergamo; President emeritus of the Academy of Athens (GREECE)
- Rev. Ieromonaco Filippo VASYLTSEV, Patriarcate of Moscow (RUSSIA)
- H.E. (Marsilianul) SILUAN, Bishop assistant of the Metropolitan See of Western Europe of the Romenian Ortodox Churche (ROMANIA)
- Rev. Sotiriadis IGNATIOS, Representative of the Church of Greece to the European Union
- H.E. Amba BARNABA, Bishop of the Coptic Ortodox Churche in Rome (ITALY)
-H.E. Mor SEVERIUS MALKE MOURAD, Syro-Ortodox Patriarchate (SYRIA)
- H.E. Norvan ZAKARIAN, Armenian Bishop of Lyon (FRANCE)
- H.E. NAREG (Manoug) ALEMEZIAN, Bishop; Ecumenical Officer of the Great House of Cilicia (ARMENIA)
- H.E. Abuna SAMUEL, Archbishop of the Ortodox Churche of Ethiopia (ETHIOPIA)
- H.G. John HIND, Bishop of Chichester (GREAT BRITAIN -ENGLAND AND WALES)
- H.E. PER LØNNING, Bishop emeritus of the Luteran Churche of Norway (NORWAY)

Below are the summaries of the interventions:

- H.E. JOHANNIS (Zizioulas), Metropolitan of Pergamo; President emeritus of the Academy of Athens (GREECE)

It is a great honour for me to be given the opportunity to address this venerable episcopal Synod and bring to it the fraternal greetings and best wishes of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Church of Constantinople. The invitation to our Church to send a fraternal delegate to this Synod is a gesture of great ecumenical significance. We respond to it with gratitude and love.
We Orthodox are deeply gratified by the fact that your Synod, too, regards the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church. It is extremely important that Roman Catholics and Orthodox can say this with one voice. There may still be things that separate our two Churches but we both believe that the Eucharist is the heart of the Church. It is on this basis that we can continue the official theological dialogue of our two Churches, which is now entering a new phase. Eucharistic ecclesiology can guide us in our efforts to overcome a thousand years of separation. For it is a pity to hold the same conviction of the importance of the Eucharist but not be able to share it at the same Table.
The ecclesiology of communion promoted by Vatican II and deepened further by eminent Roman Catholic theologians can make sense only if it derives fro the eucharistic life of the Church. The Eucharist belongs not simply to the bene esse but to the esse of the Church. The whole life, word and structure of the Church is eucharistic in its very essence.

[00291-02.03] [DF009] [Original text: English]

- Rev. Ieromonaco Filippo VASYLTSEV, Patriarcate of Moscow (RUSSIA)

Today I have the great honour of talking before the most high presences and of representing the Russian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow. The theme of the Synod of the Roman Catholic Church is close and current also in our Church. The Eucharist is the central point and is very important in the life of the Church and for every Christian person. For this reason, the weakening of the Eucharistic awareness leads to the demolition of ecclesiastic awareness, shifting the emphasis and errors in the understanding of Christian values.
His Eminence the Metropolitan Cirillo in his preaches on more than one occasion spoke of the fact that we, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, are bearers of the same paradigm of spiritual values and from this point of view the spiritual experience of each other may appear mutually precious and important.
We would be very pleased if our experience of Eucharistic life both the historical one and the current one will be useful and will help the Roman Catholic Church.
The rebirth of the Church in modern Russia is a well known fact to everybody. This fact concerns all aspects of the life of the Church. However, the event which gives most joy is represented by the rebirth of the Eucharistic awareness, which underwent serious changes in recent years.
If in the mid 19th century Saint Metropolita Filret of Moscow wrote in his brief catechism: “Whoever wishes devout Christian life must take communion four times a year”. (According to the quantity of the main fastings: Lent, fasting before the Nativity of Christ, fasting before Dormition, and fasting before the feast of the Apostles St Peter and St. Paul). In compliance with the conditions of our days, to take communion at least once a month has become part of Christian practice. Obviously this practice began during the period of persecutions. Saint Serafimus Zvezdinsky, Auxiliary Bishop of Moscow, wrote in the 1920s that the life of a Christian should be such to always be ready for communion. The practice of frequent communion in the period after the war existed in monasteries and was stimulated by famous confessors, such as Archmadrite Tavrion Batossky and others.
With this, one must not forget that in the Russian Orthodox Church preparation for communion includes, in addition to inner preparation, also The Rule (strict fasting for three days, the visit to Church in these three days, prayers for communion, special Eucharistic fasting after midnight) and confession is also compulsory. On the other hand, these strict rules are seen by the Church not as an obligation, but as an average measure which was formed historically according to the traditions to apply it to themselves. As the experience of confessor priests demonstrates, one should lead those who seldom take communion and attend church to carry out this Rule, and through it “reawaken”, reach their soul, because for many non practicing Christians the way of the church passes through “the exterior”, and it appears to them in the hymns and in the rites, whereas true people of the church live more for inner life.
Undoubtedly, this general approach towards exterior rules cannot and must not be understood in an absolute sense. In this sense, confessors can influence a great deal on the Eucharistic life of the Church, because they have the possibility to indicate the direction basing on the concrete situation of each person, taking into consideration modern tradition of the church.
Therefore, we can say that ecclesiastic awareness runs the way of seeking rules, basing on old traditions. The first number eighty of the Sixth (of Trull) Ecumenical Council says” “If a person does not take communion on three consecutive Sundays, in this way he or she separates himself or herself from the Church”.
To conclude, I wish to thank again Your Holiness, the Most Reverend members of the Synod of the roman Catholic Church for the possibility given to me to participate with you in the meetings of the Open Synod, dedicated to the Sacrament of the Eucharist and for having spoken these words on the Orthodox Eucharistic experience.

[00295-02.04] [DFO11] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. (Marsilianul) SILUAN, Bishop assistant of the Metropolitan See of Western Europe of the Romenian Ortodox Churche (ROMANIA)

The topic of the Eucharist is central equally in the Tradition of the Orthodox Church. The preoccupation of the Catholic Church joins that of our Church on many points, in particular the following:
1. The particular preoccupation for a mystagogic catechesis which allows the faithful to deepen the real-life experience of the Divine Liturgy.
2. The preparation in view of the communion with the Body and Blood of Christ. The place of confession and the role of fasting before communion etc...
The benefits which result from this are the more significant, as much from personal level as from the ecclesial level:
1. The realizing of the importance of communion in ones own life, putting in evidence, in the first place, the division between the other Christians, engenders an authentically evangelic suffering which goes hand in hand with the desire of unity wished by Christ Himself.
2. The birth of a community awareness rooted in the communion with the very bread and the very Cup, which replaces that of individual egocentric piety; of a truly Eucharistic mentality and not just self contentment.
3. The centrality of the Eucharist gives the true sense of priesthood and therefore the episcopate, by the anchoring from on high, opening the perspective up to a charismatic authority who with difficulty shows through administrative structures. It reinforces the sacramental relationship within the hierarchy, making of the bishop not only the president of the Eucharistic assembly but also the spiritual father of the community.
4. The authentic real-life experience of the Eucharist can and should bear witness to the great importance and necessity for present day society, in what concerns the guidance of life towards “the reality of on high”, towards the Kingdom of Heaven which “is not of this world”(Cf. Jn 18:36).

[00294-02.03] [DF010] [Original text: French]

- Rev. Sotiriadis IGNATIOS, Representative of the Church of Greece to the European Union

The Church of Greece cordially greets this XI Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church, the first one after the enthronement of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Every opportunity of synodal expression of the Church is a blessing and source of joy for the members of the body of Christ. Participating in this joy as a fraternal delegate of the Church of Greece, I express my wishes that this will bring excellent results and bring fruit both for the faithful of the Catholic Church and for the dialogue of love among Christians.
The Synod topic is important for the life of the Church diachronically, but especially now that theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox resume s emphasizing the question of the Church and the role of the bishop. Theological valorization of the Divine Eucharist is strictly linked to lived experience and with faith in relation to the mystery of the Church and the special diaconate of the bishop. The summit of the manifestation of the unity in the body of Christ is the participation of the faithful in the Divine Eucharist, which the bishop celebrates as a service for the glory of Christ and for his undividable and unmistakable manifestation in the world as Redeemer. This service is the responsibility that each Christian must contribute to, from the position he holds according to Divine benevolence, so that this may be realized in the most complete way possible. Our prayer, at this moment, is that we all reach an understanding of this responsibility with the fullness that ensures the grace of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of Truth directs the work of this important Synod, so that the life of every faithful in the Church may be graced by our Lord Jesus Christ, an indestructible power (Heb 7:16), sincere faith (2 Tim 1:5), a hope that will not let us down (Rom 5:5) and perfect in love (cf. Jn 4:18).

[00281-02.03] [DF008] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. Amba BARNABA, Bishop of the Coptic Ortodox Churche in Rome (ITALY)

I first of all wish to address a warm greeting to you all, grateful of the opportunity to get to know others on this occasion: I am Monsignor Barnaba El Soryany - Bishop General of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Italy- and I have the honour of participating in this Synod as representative of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt.
The theme of the Eucharist, tackled during this meeting, represents for all the Christian faithful an essential element of life; in particular the Coptic faithful express their own profession of faith in the Eucharist, in the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ, during Holy Mass and proclaim their religiosity considering the Eucharist as the centre of spiritual life, expression of the kingdom of God and source of eternal salvation. It is considered by the Coptic Orthodox Church “the Sacrament of Sacraments”, and, as such, as nourishment of divine life; it is also given to children on the day of baptism.
Damages caused by the contemporary world, the ugly scenes we see every day, can only push us more and more to seek in the Communion of Christ a source of salvation and hope for a better world. One cannot omit that already today this sacrament represents an emblem of faith in Christ the Saviour who unites and distinguishes all the Christian communities. And every day even more so, overwhelmed by thousands of dangers and problems of various nature, whereby one feels the need to get closer to Communion to find in it new nourishment and new strength which allow us to tackled with serenity the snares of daily life.
With the wish that this Sacrament may act as a propeller towards the common path towards unity of all Christians, I hope and wish to all the Synodal Fathers gathered here fruitful work for the coming days and the accomplishment of right and valid results for the future of the Church.

[00278-02.02] [DF005] [Original text: Italian]

-H.E. Mor SEVERIUS MALKE MOURAD, Syro-Ortodox Patriarchate (SYRIA)

In our Syrian Orthodox Church, we celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Syriac–Aramaic, the language of our Lord Jesus; and during the Divine Liturgy, the very same words which Jesus said in the Upper Room are recited. And the priest who celebrates this sacrament, has to celebrate it alone. I feel proud that I live in the Monastery of St. Mark in the Old City - Jerusalem, where Jesus had His Last Supper.
H.H. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka II was on the Holy Eucharist has relied in his published text on the teachings of St. Afremm, Yacoub of Sarug and Bar Hebreaus:
“According to the dogma of our Church the consecration of the two elements of bread and wine and their transubstantiation into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Holy Eucharist are taking place and fulfilled by the prayer of invocation of the Holy Spirit and not just by the words of our Lord which the celebrant Priest recites in a manner of recalling His declaration and which he has to say in awe, fear of God and with trembling, while meditating on its meaning and on the great sacrifice which our Lord Jesus offered where He sacrificed Himself on the Cross and redeemed humanity. And the Holy Spirit is the one who is consecrating all the sacraments of the Church and also sanctifying the churches and altars. The substance of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is bread and wine where the bread is leavened bread made of wheat which is called ‘Lahmo’ in the (Syriac) Bible; and we do not offer unleavened bread. We also offer matured red wine which is made of the fruit of the vine mixed with water. It is also not permitted that they be content to receive only the Holy Bread. For a long time our Church has practiced dipping the Body in the Blood and giving it to the faithful, and by this, they receive the Body and Blood together”.
The presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist is not only His Bodily Presence, but in all His fullness in humanity and Divinity. So Lord Jesus is present in all parts of the two elements. Before the believer comes forth to receive the Holy Communion, he should observe the sacrament of Penance, with individual confession. Recently our Church permitted the faithful to have collective confession.
St. Paul the Apostle exhorts the believer to spiritually prepare himself before he comes to receive the Holy Communion with faith, reverence and a pure conscience, and should cleanse his body and observe the pre–communion fast at 12 midnight. We used to give the sacraments of the Holy Communion to the children immediately after they receive the sacraments of Holy Baptism, Chrism.
We have to mention about the Common Declaration which was signed by H.H. Pope John Paul II of blessed memory and H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka II was on 1984, in which they decided in paragraph 9: “We authorize [our faithful] … to ask for the Sacraments of Penance, Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick from lawful priests of either of our two sister Churches (the Roman Catholic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church), when they need them”.

[00274-02.03] [DF001] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Norvan ZAKARIAN, Armenian Bishop of Lyon (FRANCE)

I have the pleasure of passing on to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and all of you gathered here, the warm and fraternal greetings of His Holiness the Catholicos Karékine II who wishes a fruitful outcome to this XI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Before entering in agony, before being arrested as a common criminal and dying on the cross, Jesus institutes the Eucharist, this sacramental meal which, by means of visible signs, communicates to us the love of God in Jesus Christ, the love with which Jesus loved those who were His “to the end” (Jn 13:1) The Eucharist is the sacrament of the unique sacrifice of Christ, ever living to intercede in our favour, remembrance of all that God has done for the salvation of the world. The celebrant invokes God so that He should send His Spirit on the bread (three times), then on the wine (three times), finally on the two species (three times). The consecration, the Eucharist, encompasses also the people of God, that is to say His church. As regards communion, the priest dips the host in the wine; then, on his knees on the rostrum of the altar, he breaks the host into little pieces having the form of a grain of corn and gives the communion directly in the mouth of the faithful, who are standing, facing the altar. Throughout the celebration, the prayers are addressed to the Father, to the Son and to the Spirit who is “source of life”. The Eucharistic liturgy is for the believer a true catechesis. This long prayer sung by the celebrant, the deacons, the choir takes place on Sundays and at the time of important feasts. It fully nourishes the faithful. Once the ceremony is finished, the latter is sent on a mission as Jesus shed His blood for the “multitude”. We must then bear witness to all that we have received: peace, love, joy. Our liturgy has undergone very few modifications in the course of the centuries and we take no liberty with respect to the rite. The texts, the gestures are the same in all the churches of Armenia and of the Diaspora. Armenians scattered therefore come together to celebrate the Eucharist in a community gathering.

[00275-02.03] [DF002] [Original text: French]

- H.E. NAREG (Manoug) ALEMEZIAN, Bishop; Ecumenical Officer of the Great House of Cilicia (ARMENIA)

After conveying the greetings of the Head of his Church, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, Bishop Alemezian shared a historical eucharistic experience stemming out of a heroic event occurred in 451, and underlined his expectation of the study of eucharistic ecclesiology by the global Christianity in reminding the 1967 visit of Catholicos Khoren I to Pope Paul VI motivated by the spirit of 1 Corinthians 10.16.
The Armenian word used to designate the Holy Eucharist is Surp Patarag, which means Holy Sacrifice. In the liturgical life of the Church we are at God’s service (liturgy) and offer sacrifice of thanksgiving (eucharist) for gifts received from Him.
Holy Eucharist is centered on the sacrificial giving of our Savior and generating a communion of love with God and our fellow beings by the power of the Holy Spirit. And as such it plays a significant role in the diffusion of the Christian faith as the continuation of the incarnational presence of our crucified and risen Lord for the transformation of our lives today and in the Kingdom of Heaven.
This reality is sustained by the Armenian experience of martyria in obedience to carrying the cross to the very point of ultimate self denial (Matthew 16.24) for the graceful obtainment of the crown of righteousness (cf. 2 Timothy 2.4.7-8) and the manifestation of the life of Jesus in our body (cf. 2 Corinthians 4.6-11).
In 451, during a heroic uprising to protect their Christian faith and human dignity, Armenians participated in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, received the precious body and blood of the Lamb of God and proclaimed, “We acknowledge the Holy Bible as our Father and the Universal Church as our Mother”.
In assessing the constructive role of bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogues in discussing the theme “Church as Communion,” I encourage all of us to engage in the study of eucharistic ecclesiology, which situates the unity of the Church in the local celebration of the Holy Eucharist presided over by the bishop in communion with his brother bishops.
In this respect, the distinctive role of the bishop is underlined as the one who takes care of the flock entrusted to him by the Good Shepherd (John 10.11), tending it with love most fully revealed in the eucharistic partaking of the one bread (I Corinthians 10.17) for a spiritual and universal communion in the mystical body of Christ (I Corinthians 12.27).

[00277-02.04] [DF004] [Original text: English]

- H.E. Abuna SAMUEL, Archbishop of the Ortodox Churche of Ethiopia (ETHIOPIA)

I would like to present greetings to all of you from His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum and Echege of the Holy See of St. Teklehaimanot. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. I am very glad to present some of the traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church regarding the Holy Eucharist. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, following the Lord's commandment "drink of it all of you", is giving both the consecrated bread and wine to all communicants. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church does not mix the Body and the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, except in life emergencies such as terminal sickness. The Body and the Blood are given separately, as our Lord Jesus Christ ordered us to do. In the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition a strict Eucharistic fast is observed. The celebrants, concelebrants, priests, deacons and all communicants have to fast at least nine hours before receiving Holy Eucharist and they have to ask forgiveness for what they did wrong. Deacons are not allowed to distribute the Holy Eucharist but they give the blood with cross-spoons. Laymen cannot receive the Eucharist bread with their hands, therefore the priest offers communion in their mouth. In the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition a priest cannot celebrate Holy Eucharist several times a day, he can celebrate only once a day. But two or three or more than three priests can celebrate at the same time on different altars or even on one altar, reciting all prayers together. This is done on Christmas, Easter and on the feast day of Holy Mary, the Mother of God. All communicants, men and women, and also children come to the table in white robes to the glory of the Eucharist. This tradition indicates the two angels in white robes sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying (In 20: 12). All faithful of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church are grateful to the Lord Jesus for having given to the Church such a wonderful sacrament.

[00276-02.04] [DF003] [Original text: English]

- H.G. John HIND, Bishop of Chichester (GREAT BRITAIN -ENGLAND AND WALES)

Greetings from the Archbishop of Canterbury and request for prayers for Anglicans at a difficult time. Some points concerning the theme of this Synod:
Issues of inculturation highlight the need for further discussion about diversity and unity in the Church.
When is it appropriate to share holy communion? How should we interpret the public giving of communion to the Protestant Frère Roger Schutz?
The Eucharist is not primarily a matter or rite or ceremonial but a living of the new life Christ in Christ. If it is to be truly Christian, there must be criteria for mutual recognition. No less important is the extent to which we suffer with each other.
What is the God-given dynamic of the Eucharist? The culture flowing from the Incarnation affirms our God-given humanity, including cultural diversity, but also challenges every human culture. It is only in the dialogue between the Incarnation and particular cultures, that we can identify the truly catholic.
ARCIC said that in the Eucharist in “we enter into the movement of Christ’s self-offering.” Christ’s offering was both a sacrifice to the Father for us and a “laying down of his life for his friends.” The anamnesis of his sacrifice is therefore also oriented both towards God and humanity.
This establishes three fundamental points about the Eucharist.
(a) In the Eucharist it is not our fellowship that is being celebrated, but our reconciliation with God which creates our fellowship.
(b) Also it is Christ himself who is the Lord of the Eucharist. If his Incarnation, death, resurrection and coming in glory are mysteries, if the Eucharist is itself “Mysterium fidei” then it must follow that our fellowship or communion in the Church is also a mysterion, in other words, speaking something we cannot understand by reason alone. (c) Finally, being united with Christ in his self-offering orients us not only towards God but also towards every single one of our human brothers and sisters, for whom in their amazing diversity the Son of God gave his life. “Ite, missa est” is both a statement of the completeness of Christ’s work and a charge to us to carry it forward.

[00280-02.02] [DF007] [Original text: English]

- H.E. PER LØNNING, Bishop emeritus of the Luteran Churche of Norway (NORWAY)

Warm thanks from the Lutheran World Federation, from the Church of Norway - and from myself - for inviting me as fraternal delegate and for receiving me in so open-minded and brotherly a way!
To Lutherans the holy Eucharist was and is a vital concern. Our stress on the real presence of the Lord for centuries even led us to deny eucharistic fellowship with churches of the Reformed tradition.
In order to enter into the dialogue of this Assembly, let me report a few of my experiences of promises and pains with regard to eucharistic fellowship in relation to the Roman Catholic church!
In 1971 I was for the first time invited to preach in the setting of a Roman catholic mass, which happened to be in Antwerp in Belgium. In the sacristy the young and ecumenically dedicated celebrant asked: “Of course, you will be ready to receive Holy Communion?” I quickly turned to the bishop present, about 30 years my senior: “Say, wouldn’t that be contrary to the rules of the Catholic church?” The bishop nodded, and I went on: “As a guest, I will certainly do nothing in conflict with the rules of my host.” “Thank you for your understanding attitude,” said the old bishop. And what happened? During the whole liturgy he sat next to me in the choir, and even refrained from receiving the sacrament himself. At the end he said: “Come, brother, we go to the alter and we will give the benediction together!” What a truly ecumenical experience!
1975, St.John’s Abbey, Minnesota. In a lecture on “The present state of ecumenism”, I had uttered fear that we might still have several years ahead of us before eucharistic fellowship could be formally established. It then turned out that on this place protestant students had already for some years approached the communion table, without being explicitly invited. “We had to come to terms with this,” said a Benedictine father, “and this was the outcome: Who are we, to censor the work of the Holy Spirit?” The following week I heard a similar remark from the catholic chaplain at Luther College, Iowa. His students had started to attend communion there: “I am not authorized to dissuade them from that, but as I sit there observing them, I regret one thing: that as an official catholic ambassador I cannot join”.
Ten years ago in a catholic cathedral in the southern hemisphere, I asked the officiating archbishop: “I presume you follow the official rules here, so that I remain seated during holy communion?” “Brother, it is long since we heard anything like that here, he replied. You will come and receive the sacrament right after me…”.
I hurry to my point, which is the following. The paragraphs 86 and 87 in your Instrumentum Laboris make me rather sad. Especially because I know they will make many of my catholic friends sad: bishops, professors, monastic leaders. The fact that conclusions are presented and logically championed with no reference to what has been and is going on in your own church. No attention is paid to opinions not less biblically founded than the one triumphant. Will it forward the actual ecumenical progress in case this is published as the official voice of the Roman Catholic Church?
If we really believe the presence of Christ the Saviour to be linked with the wonder of Holy Communion, how can we remain with our divided altars, and not hear the harsh question of the apostle as directed to us: “Has Christ been divided”?

[00279-02.04] [DF006] [Original text: English]


Then the following Fathers intervened:

- H.E. Most. Rev. Paul Kouassivi VIEIRA, Bishop of Djougou (BENIN)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Vittorino GIRARDI STELLIN, M.C.C.I., Bishop of Tilarán (COSTA RICA)
- H. Em. Card. Geraldo Majella AGNELO, Archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia, President of the Episcopal Conference (BRAZIL)
- H.E. Most. Rev. Basil Myron SCHOTT, O.F.M., Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburg of Byzantines, President of the Council of the Ruthene Church (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

Below are the summaries of the interventions:

- H.E. Most. Rev. Paul Kouassivi VIEIRA, Bishop of Djougou (BENIN)

“It is at the end of the ancient rope that the news is made”. Through this African proverb, I would like, first of all, in front of this august Synodal Assembly, to pay tribute to our courageous missionaries on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the Fathers of the African Missions of Lyon, which will be celebrated in the near future. It is thanks to them that we were formed and educated to the authentic faith of the Catholic Church in what concerns Eucharist. What we live today and what is the important part of this communication, we owe it all to them. There is no spontaneous generation in what concerns Eucharist. “I transmitted to you what I myself received” St. Paul said! Our ancestor, Msg Louis PARISOT, the last French Archbishop of Cotonou, before the autochthonous hierarchy resumed Catholic faith in this trilogy “Crux Hostia Virgo”. It is what is essential to our faith, what is essential to the Church.
I referred to this particular story in order to emphasize, at first, our responsibility today regarding not only the Church of today but also the future generations. Secondly, in order to propose to ourselves the tenacity and the devotion of these missionaries who were not wealthier than are as regards number, as for means and yet did not save anything, nor their time, nor their life, nor their person in order for the Eucharist to be celebrated, known, loved and desired because they believed it was the heart of everything. Finally, in order to learn from their praxis that Eucharist well celebrated, even in the Catechumenal communities, is the first and best catechesis on itself. It is certainly from this heritage that the Church of Benin lives today in a real constructive way.
To compensate the lack of full Eucharistic celebration on Sunday, priests travel, in shifts, to the villages and communities during the week so that no one remains for a long time without participating to a Mass. It does not seem that the celebrations in the absence of a priest constitutes a problem to our faithful or engenders any confusion! However, the proposed schedules, excluding all Eucharistic prayers and therefore all narrations of the Institution, prevents this risk or this fall. In this atmosphere of goodwill and very favorable to the Eucharist, three are the points of attention and insistence on the part of the pastors of the Country.
1. The Eucharist as Sacrifice of the New Covenant. In a traditional culture that knew the practice of blood through which two persons or more make a living alliance, we can only outline this dimension of the alliance realized between Christ and man, between Christ and His people.
2. On the catechetical level and that of formation, this dimension of the alliance helps us not to make of the Eucharist a simple rite but an alliance that wants to achieve through the implications in all the fields of human life, so that each Christian can say, like St. Paul: “It is not me who lives anymore, it is Christ who lives in me” in a context of a strong blossoming of priestly vocations (Benin at this academic return counts 500 seminarists) and the vocation to consecrated life, this dimension becomes a criteria of vigilant and careful discernment. It helps also to live the Sunday precept with greater love without making it a simple burden, but as a natural need for alliance.
3. On the national level, the Eucharist becomes for us the way to true unity: as was asserted by the Fathers of the Special Synod for Africa, we try to make clear how much the Blood of Christ by itself can realize the unity of the nation that has more than 50 ethnic peoples, ready to oppose each other and enter battle especially when they are manipulated by politicians for electoral reasons.
The Eucharist is the true sacrament of hope for all mankind. We thank Pope John Paul II for having indicated it to us as the light to be projected unceasingly on our identity and our mission. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Redemptionis Sacramentum et Mane Nobiscum Domine help us conserve the grain and to battle against the small abuses that slip in the attitudes of certain priests (behaviour, dress, very serious imbalances of certain elements, etc.).

[00266-02.02] [IN208] [Original text: French]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Vittorino GIRARDI STELLIN, M.C.C.I., Bishop of Tilarán (COSTA RICA)

1. We can contemplate the Eucharistic mystery as the gift and sacrament of relationship: in effect, the Eucharist establishes a relationship with the salvific mystery of Easter, on the one hand, and with the life of the Church and that of all humanity, on the other. In can be contemplated in relation to Christ, who institutes it and gives it to us, and in relation to the Church that lives from it. All of creation, originated by the eternal Word (cf. Jn 1:1-2), returns to God as redeemed and recreated by the same Word made flesh (cf. Jn1:14). From this perspective, every celebration of the Eucharist is always a “holy Mass over the world”, and the point of convergence of all creation; it is always the missionary-liturgical action “par excellence”.
In relation to the Church, the Eucharist is a gift and a grace that builds her up, making possible the following of Christ, and sustaining her missionary commitment and witness to the Kingdom, as an “exalted yet arduous task” that “requires total dedication, even to the point of martyrdom” (Instrumentum Laboris no. 89).
The Eucharistic Cenacle is the Cenacle of Pentecost, from which the Apostles come out, affirming: “We cannot stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20)
2. All of the above is true, but there is a certainty that I believe important which, however, I have not found in the Instrumentum Laboris. I refer to the priority of the mission with respect to the Church and therefore to the Eucharist. That is to say, mission is born of the action of Christ and of his Spirit, having in the source of the Father’s love its first origin (AG 2). The “exaggerated” Love (to the extreme) that Christ manifests to us in the Eucharist is the love of the Father who sent him to the world, as Christ himself says to Nicodemus: “For this is how God loved the world: he gave [gave up] his only Son” (Jn 3:16). The mission, therefore, is not only the means by which the Church-Eucharist brings faith to the peoples who do not yet know Christ, and with which she makes herself present where she is not yet to be found(AG), but the tangible way of being at the disposition of her Founder and his Spirit. Mission does not begin with the Church, rather she places herself at the disposition of the Mission, constituting her very being in Mission. The Church is Mission!
From this perspective, the Church-Eucharist is at the same time fruit and realization of the missionary movement that has in the Trinitarian God the reason of its dynamism, on the one hand, and responsible bearer of the same, to the last confines of the earth.

[00267-02.03] [IN209] [Original text: Spanish]

- H. Em. Card. Geraldo Majella AGNELO, Archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia, President of the Episcopal Conference (BRAZIL)

I refer to no. 33 of the Instrumentum laboris where the reception of the Eucharistic mystery among the faithful is dealt with, and which recalls the “profound spiritual meaning to the sufferings of Catholic Christians in these lands”.
We know how, from the first centuries of Christianity, special attention was paid to the faithful who could not attend in the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the reason for which the conservation of the Eucharist was instituted to meet the various needs for this impediment.
Every person is subject to, sooner or later, some experience of suffering. I would like to underline the situation of the sick, prisoners and the elderly persons who cannot walk autonomously.
I mention, here, the opportunity and the need to prepare the lay faithful that can promote visits by a priest for sacramental reconciliation and then continue the pastoral care by bringing Eucharistic communion.
Today, many persons feel alone because of the lack of close relatives, or because they have been placed in permanent nursing homes, or due to the limitations of being bed-ridden without the possibility of receiving visits from parents, friends or even rejected because they are no longer productive.
In a world with so many means of communication available, often people, even if not sick, live in isolation and in silence.
However, in a moment of suffering, people become sensitive and need an encounter with the manifestation of goodness and mercy of God. Thus God needs our arms and our testimony to make real the experience of his love.

[00269-02.03] [IN211] [Original text: Italian]

- H.E. Most. Rev. Basil Myron SCHOTT, O.F.M., Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburg of Byzantines, President of the Council of the Ruthene Church (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

I would like to reflect on three areas, shadows, ecumenism and the ministry of priests covered by numbers 23 and 86.
From an Eastern perspective, the path to the light is through and out of the darkness or shadows. However, there will always be shadows until Christ comes again. This is part of the human condition. From our part, we must have the courage to look at the shadows and thereby bring the light of Christ therein. In fact this is happening in the Eastern Churches in the United States as they continue the process of authentic renewal of the liturgical practices as set forth and encouraged in the Instructions given by Pope John Paul II. The elimination of liturgical practices or shadows that are not authenic to the liturgical theology and tradition of the Eastern Churches, the reinstitution of the Tryptyk of Initiation: Baptism, Chrismation and the Eucharist - the development of catechetical series such as the God with Us Series for those of the Byzantine Tradition and the initiation of a series for those of the Syro-antiochian Tradition.
There exists in the United States, 17 eparchies of the Byzantine, Antiochian, Chaldean and Annenian traditions. Four of the Byzantine Ruthenian, four of the Byzantine Ukrainian, one of the Byzantine Melkite, one of the Byzantine Romanian, two of the Maronite, two of the Chaldean, one of the Syrian, one of the Syro-Malabar, one of the Annenian each with their own hierarchy and eparchial structures. There are also faithful and priests of the Syro - Malankar, Ethiopian and Coptic Catholic Churches without their own hierarcy. There also exists eparchies of our brothers of the Orthodox Churches of the same traditions. This is a unique ecclesial situation in the world and it has its blessings. This allows us the fertile ground for a unique ecumenical dialogue both formally and informally with our brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Churches. Practically speaking we often pray together even attending the Eucharistic Celebration of each other. However, the pain remains of not being able to partake of the Eucharist in these celebrations.
Finally, I wish to speak of the clergy. This seems to be lacking in the Instrumentum Laboris. They are the persons through whom the Eucharist is brought to the people of God. It is important to be supportive, affirming and appreciative of all priests in the world and from my perspective the priests of the United States. The lack of vocations is a critical problem as well as the adequate inculturation of the those clergy from the lands of origin of their respective Eastern Churches. What is needed for our clergy, whether married or celibate, is to live an authentic holy life. They need to be the models of the gospel lived in their respective eastern traditions. They need to have a strong bibilical and theological formation in the theologies of Eastern Fathers, and fmally, since the Eucharist is the center of our lives, they need to be people of prayer in the true traditions of the East.

[00270-02.04] [IN212] [Original text: English]


On the conclusion of the interventions in the Hall, the President Delegate on duty, H.Em. Card. Juan SANDOVAL ÍÑIGUEZ, Archbishop of Guadalajara (Mexico) read out the following message:

To H. Em. Card. Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, Archbishop of Guatemala

Telegram for those who are suffering the consequences of the hurricane

Upon hearing of the tragic news of the hurricane and the floods in Guatemala and Central America, together with the Holy Father Benedict XVI the Synod Fathers of the XI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops offer Your Excellency the President of the Episcopal Conference their deep and heartfelt participation, assuring their prayers through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the people who died and for the comfort of the living, as they pledge the solidarity of the Catholic Church and encourage Christians and all people of good will.

On behalf of the Synodal Fathers

Cardinal Francis Arinze, President Delegate
Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, President Delegate
Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, President Delegate

[00297-02.06] [NNNNN] [Original text: Spanish] Following this, the President Delegate H.Em.. Card. Telesphore Placidus TOPPO, Archbishop of Ranchi (India) read out the following message:


TO: His Excellency, Most Rev. Lawrence J. SALDANHA, Archbishop of Lahore and President of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference.

Upon hearing of the tragic news of the earthquake in Pakistan, the synod fathers of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, gathered together with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, offer heartfelt greetings to your Excellency as President of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference, and, with feelings of empathy, assure their prayers, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for those who have lost their lives and for the comfort of the living, as they pledge the solidarity of the Catholic Church, and encourage Christians and all people of good will to join in humanitarian efforts.

On behalf of the synod fathers,
His Eminence, Cardinal Francis ARINZE, President-Delegate
His Eminence, Cardinal Jaun SANDOVAL iNIGUEZ, President-Delegate
His Eminence, Cardinal Telesphore Placidus TOPPO, President-Delegate

[00298-02.02] [NNNNN] [Original text: English]

Then, free interventions followed.

This General Congregation ended at 6:55 p.m. with the prayer Angelus Domini. 240 Fathers were present.



The briefing of the linguistic groups of Saturday 15 October 2005 will take place at mid-day.


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. Telesphore Placidus Toppo
Archbishop of Ranchi (India)
● H.Exc. Msg. John Patrick Foley
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
● H.Exc. Msg. Luciano Pedro Mendes de Almeida, S.I.
Archbishop of Mariana (Brazil)
Member of the Information Commission


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