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Wednesday, October 12, 2005


VATICAN CITY, OCT 11, 2005 (VIS) - During the Fourteenth General Congregation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held this afternoon in the Vatican's Synod Hall, apart from speeches by the Synod Fathers, the fraternal delegates were given an opportunity to address the gathering. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez.

  At the start of this afternoon's session, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, recalled that today is the 43rd anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II and the feast of Blessed John XXIII.

  Following are excerpts of some of the speeches delivered by fraternal delegates and Synod Fathers:

METROPOLITAN JOHANNIS ZIZIOULAS OF PERGAMO, GREECE. "It is a great honor 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 also 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."

REV. FILIPPO VAYLTSEV OF THE PATRIARCHATE OF MOSCOW, RUSSIA. "The Eucharist is the central and most important point of the life of the Church and of every Christian. Hence, the weakening of Eucharistic awareness leads to a destruction of ecclesiastic awareness, ... and to errors in the understanding of Christian values. ... We would be very pleased if our experience of Eucharistic life, both past and present, proves useful and helpful to the Roman Catholic Church. ... It must not be forgotten that preparation for communion in the Russian Orthodox Church also includes, apart from inner preparation, 'The Rule' (strict fasting for three days, visits to Church during these three days, prayers for communion, and special Eucharistic fasting after midnight), and Confession is also compulsory. However, these strict rules are seen by the Church not as an obligation, but as a measure that was formed historically in accordance with tradition, and that people apply to themselves."

MOR SEVERIUS MALKE MOURAD OF THE SYRO-ORTHODOX 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 of Jerusalem, where Jesus had His Last Supper. ... The presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist is not only His bodily presence, but all His fullness in humanity and divinity. So Lord Jesus is present in all parts of the two elements. ... St. Paul the Apostle exhorts the believer to spiritually prepare himself before he comes to receive 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 holy communion to the children immediately after they receive the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation."

BISHOP NAREG (MANOUG) ALEMEZIAN, ECUMENICAL OFFICIAL OF THE GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA, ARMENIA. "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. ... In assessing the constructive role of bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogues in discussing the theme of '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, tending it with a love that is most fully revealed in the Eucharistic partaking of the one bread for a spiritual and universal communion in the mystical Body of Christ."

BISHOP JOHN HIND OF CHICHESTER, ENGLAND. "I bring greetings from the Archbishop of Canterbury and request for prayers for Anglicans at a difficult time. ... When is it appropriate to share holy communion? How should we interpret the public giving of communion to the Protestant Frere Roger Schutz? The Eucharist is not primarily a matter or rite or ceremonial but a living of the new life 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. ... In the Eucharist it is not our fellowship that is being celebrated, but our reconciliation with God which creates our fellowship. ... 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. 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."

CARDINAL GERALDO MAJELLA AGNELO, ARCHBISHOP OF SAO SALVADOR DA BAHIA, BRAZIL. "We know how, from the first centuries of Christianity, special attention was paid to faithful who could not participate in the celebration of Eucharistic sacrifice, which was why the conservation of the Eucharist was instituted, to meet the various requirements of such situations. ... I would like to underline the situation of the sick, prisoners and elderly people who have difficulty in moving independently. I would also mention here the need to train lay faithful to promote visits by a priest for sacramental reconciliation, and then to continue their pastoral care by bringing Eucharistic communion. Today, many persons feel alone because they lack close relatives, or because they have been placed in permanent nursing homes, or due to the difficulties in walking that force them to remain confined to their beds with no possibility of receiving visits from relatives and friends, or even rejected because they are no longer productive. In a world with so many means of communication, people, even healthy people, often live in isolation and silence. However, in moments of suffering people become sensitive and needful of an expression of God's goodness and mercy. Thus God needs our efforts and our testimony to fulfill the experience of His love."
SE/FOURTEENTH CONGREGATION/...                    VIS 20051012 (1260)

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