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Thursday, October 6, 2005


VATICAN CITY, OCT 6, 2005 (VIS) - The Sixth General Congregation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began at 9 a.m. today. The Pope was present for the meeting, which was held in the Synod Hall in the Vatican. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and 243 Synod Fathers were present.

  Below are extracts from some of the speeches given this morning:

BISHOP JAVIER ECHEVARRIA RODRIGUEZ, PRELATE OF THE PERSONAL PRELATURE OF OPUS DEI. "Paragraph 34 of the 'Instrumentum Laboris' highlights the importance of a sense of the sacred in celebrating the Eucharist. We should study practical ways to help the faithful to a clearer understanding of the sacredness of Eucharistic sacrifice. ... It would therefore be useful, on the basis of the Instruction 'Redemptionis sacramentum,' to try to remove abuses that harm the sacred nature of Eucharistic celebrations, and to rethink certain regulations which may be interpreted and applied in an abusive fashion. For example, I suggest reviewing the appropriateness of Eucharistic ceremonies in which there is such an excessive number of concelebrants as to make the dignified celebration of the liturgy impossible; and re-evaluating whether communion should actually be given to all participants in a Mass where great numbers of believers are present, when such general distribution may harm the dignity of worship."

BISHOP ARTHUR ROCHE OF LEEDS, ENGLAND. "An impoverished appreciation of the irreplaceable nature of Eucharistic sacrifice also has obvious implications for understandings of the priesthood. Facilitating the reception of Holy Communion becomes as relevant and important as being present at the celebration of the Mass. We need to re connect the reception of Holy Communion with the offering of the Mass through which we are caught up into Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Holy Communion properly belongs to the Mass as the fruit of a sacramental act in which we encounter Christ's sacrifice on the cross. In this discussion the value of the place of Eucharistic adoration becomes all the more important for our prayer and contemplation. Christ's presence and His offering are united, flowing from and pointing towards the Mass, that sacramental celebration where Christ's offering of sacrifice and presence in Holy Communion are held in rightful unity."

BISHOP EDWARD OZOROWSKI, AUXILIARY OF BIALYSTOK, POLAND. "The Eucharist, as the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, brings the sacrifice of the cross into the present day. The sacrifice is the 'primum principium' of the Eucharist and creates a hierarchy of all the truths related thereto. ... Eucharistic teaching underlines many important themes: banquet, communion, listening to the word of God, sacrament, etc., however these themes lack a 'keystone.' One consequence of this is a certain 'protestantization' of the theology of the Eucharist, which such teaching reveals as being a beautiful rite, but one with little meaning for life. Yet it is the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, to which man has access through the Eucharist, that is most important in this mystery. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross brought salvation to humanity. ... Thanks to the Eucharist, sacrifice in human life is transformed into the sacrifice of Christ. Only by walking the path of the cross can we reach the glory of the resurrection."

BISHOP ARNOLD OROWAE, COADJUTOR OF WABAG, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. "Experiences of injustice, violence, corruption, poverty, etc., show that there is a separation between the Eucharist and life. Thus the real saving and transforming presence of Jesus in the Eucharist should not be understood vaguely and taken lightly but Catholics should be serious in their faith, with due respect and adoration. ... How can this be true for communities who live in the remote villages that do not have the opportunity for frequent celebration and reception of the Eucharist? This poses the question, what kind of priest do we need in our situation? Does one need years of intellectual formation in philosophy and theology to give much-needed service to poor people in remote areas who may not equal his intellectual capabilities? The issue here is not having more vocations, but justice and equality for all the children of God, having the right to make the Eucharist the center of their lives by celebrating and receiving it as often as they can. ... Should the Church allow for mature Christian men who are strong in faith, very committed, and have the respect of the people, to be easily trained to preside at the Eucharistic celebration, which will make it easy for the people to participate in the Eucharist, so that the importance and centrality of the Eucharist becomes true for the people?"

ARCHBISHOP ANTHONY SABLAN APURON O.F.M. Cap., OF AGANA, GUAM. "In the Pacific, the scarcity of priests and the aggressiveness of the evangelistic sects are challenging the very survival of the Catholic faith. In my experience, the only answer to this double predicament is to 'form communities based on faith,' as Pope Benedict told the youth in Cologne. ... Today, the Church needs to make clearly visible the signs of the Eucharist: maybe the Church needs to restore the 'breadness' of the bread which becomes the Body of Christ to be eaten by all, and wine drunk by all which becomes the Blood of Christ. These signs fully and powerfully represent the reality that they signify and not just approximate them. ... I urge leaders of the Church today, to do everything possible to help people come to really know Jesus Christ through the signs of the Eucharist and the reality they signify."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 5, 2005 (VIS) - In the Synod Hall at 4.30 p.m. today, Wednesday, the Fifth General Congregation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began in the presence of the Pope. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India, and 246 Synod Fathers were present.

  Below are extracts from some of the speeches given during the afternoon:

HIS BEATITUDE GREGOIRE III LAHAM B.S., PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH OF THE GREEK-MELKITES, SYRIA. "In the present day, after September 11, 2001, with the war against Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the increase in Islamic fundamentalism and the spread of the phenomenon of terrorism, it is very important to remind Arab Christians about their role as Church 'of the Arabs,' in the context of Islam to which they are historically bound ('Church of Islam'). Such a reminder would help to encourage Christians in the Arab world and in Islamic countries, and would be very favorably received in the world and in those countries. ... On the subject of the 'Eucharist and peace,' it would be appropriate to mention Jerusalem and Palestine, spiritual home of all Christians, and to say a word for peace in the Holy City and in the Holy Land. This is the key to peace in the Near East and in the whole world and - for we Christians of the Arab world - it is of the greatest importance for maintaining a Christian presence there."

ARCHBISHOP JUAN FRANCSICO SARASTI JARAMILLO C.I.M., OF CALI COLOMBIA. "The Eucharist is the response to the negative signs of modern culture. In the first instance, in the face of a culture or anti-culture of death that traffics in arms, builds systems of wide-scale destruction, legalizes abortion and authorizes research on human embryos, Jesus defines and gives Himself to us as 'Bread of Life.' In the second instance, our culture is marked by hatred and terrorism. ... The Eucharist offers the permanent possibility of reconciliation with God and our brethren, an invitation to find reconciliation among ourselves before worshipping the Lord. This is the reason that so many communities feel so deeply about the 'rite of peace', as renewed by liturgical reform. Another modern trait is that of scientific positivism or relativism, yet the Eucharist reaffirms the reality of the 'mystery' and the value of belief and love as a way to knowledge; with Eucharistic faith, upheld by ecclesial tradition and based on the words of the Lord, we have access to real, though imperfect, certainties. Finally, in the face of the solitude and desperation that undermine mankind today, the Eucharist offers us ... profound companionship and a promise of eternal life that fills us with definitive hope."

ARCHBISHOP STANISLAW RYLKO, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE LAITY. "Increasing secularization, as well as the spread of religious indifference and of a 'strange forgetfulness of God' - as the Holy Father Benedict XVI calls it - provoke among many baptized of our time a worrying deterioration, if not even loss, of their own Christian identity. In this situation one of the most urgent challenges that the Church must face is that of adequate post-Baptismal Christian initiation, capable of creating Christian communities that live faith deeply. ... The Eucharistic celebration is a privileged place in which to construct the full, mature and coherent Christian identity of the lay faithful. Because it is in the Eucharist that lay Christians fully realize their participation in the triple mission entrusted to them by Christ: priestly, prophetic and royal. ... As the Holy Father recalled in Cologne, the real revolution that changes the world starts with the Eucharist. ... In this way the Eucharist becomes not only the heartbeat of the Church, but also of the world. For this reason true lay spirituality can only be Eucharistic spirituality."

BISHOP PIERRE TRAN DINH TU OF PHU CUONG, VIETNAM. "Vietnamese Catholics practice their faith. For them, Eucharistic celebration has special importance. About 80% attend Mass on Sundays, and 15% during week days. On important feasts, such as Christmas and Easter, the number may reach 95%. An explanation for this lies in catechistic formation and family education. In this Year of the Eucharist, all dioceses prepared special programs. Awareness among the lay faithful was raised and they were invited to study the documents of the Magisterium of the Church on the Eucharist. For the celebrations, the episcopal conference organized a Eucharistic congress at the national Marian center of Lavang, and there were 500,000 participants. ... Eucharistic worship in Vietnam has brought positive effects: religious life has increased, community activities are more animated, fraternal communion is more evident and reciprocal help among families has become more natural and widespread. To sum up, there is reason to hope that Eucharistic devotion will bring many benefits to our country."

ARCHBISHOP JOSEPH POWATHIL OF CHANGANACHERRY OF THE SYRO-MALABARS, INDIA. "The variety of liturgical traditions and therefore of the Church's traditions of faith serves to manifest the richness of the mystery of Christ and the divine plan of salvation. Hence the patrimony of all the Churches must 'remain whole and entire' and the Churches should return to those traditions, 'if they have fallen away due to the vicissitudes of time or persons.' Unfortunately the Oriental Churches have in various ways through the vicissitudes of history failed in different degrees to preserve their valuable heritage. In the present day context of globalization and standardization there is the danger that these small Churches may further lose their perspectives. Therefore we hope that the Successor of Peter, endowed with the duty of confirming his brethren in faith, will help the Oriental Churches in a special way to grow and bear more effective witness before the world with greater fidelity to their valuable heritage. This will surely strengthen the cause of Christian unity and the proclamation of the mystery of Christ in our times."
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