Congregation for Doctrine of Faith to Focus on Natural Law and Eucharist

Two Key Topics for Ecumenism and Dialogue with World

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 14, 2002 ( Natural law, and the relation of the Eucharist and the Church are the main topics of the four-day plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith opening Tuesday.

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the congregation, made the disclosure today on Vatican Radio. The question of natural law is decisive for the Church when engaging in dialogue with the world, he explained.

«In the Church and human society, the natural law was the platform of dialogue between believers and nonbelievers,» the archbishop said.

«Now, in a certain sense, this platform has sunk and there is no other instrument for comparison and dialogue than the despotic will of each individual or the so-called search for consensus of the majority, which leads to the adoption, including in legislation, of behavior that is very debatable,» he added.

The second topic of the plenary assembly is the relation between the Eucharist and the Church, a key topic for ecumenical dialogue.

«It is a fundamental relation; it is an original relation that goes back to the initiative of Christ himself, who instituted the Eucharist and gave it to the apostles, and the apostles transmitted it to the Church,» Archbishop Bertone explained. «According to an ancient saying of the Holy Fathers, the Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist: There is an interaction that calls for profound reflection.»

This reflection should have decisive consequences in addressing ecumenical challenges such as, for example, eucharistic intercommunion.

The assembly will evaluate the congregation´s activity in 2000 and 2001, marked by important documents. The most significant, perhaps, was the «Dominus Iesus» declaration of Aug. 6, 2000, which confirmed the unique character of the salvation brought by Christ and his Church.

In this connection, the meeting will give special attention to the dialogue the congregation has engaged in with theologians, following the 1997 adoption of new norms to guarantee their rights and capacity for defense.

In recent years, this dialogue between the congregation and several theologians has made possible the surmounting of poor interpretations or theological ambiguities attributed or present in the works of Belgian Jacques Dupuis, Spaniard Marciano Vidal, and Austrian Reinhard Messner.

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