Cardinal Ratzinger Says Eucharist Is Antidote to Individualism

Considers Encyclical on the Sacrament the Year’s Key Papal Document

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2003 ( Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger believes that the greatest threat to man today is relativism, which ends by shutting him up in individualism.

This is why the Church has stressed to Catholics over the past year, the bond represented by the Eucharist, the cardinal said, after attending John Paul II’s yearly pre-Christmas meeting with his collaborators in the Roman Curia.

In his greetings to the Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger as dean of the College of Cardinals said that the encyclical on the Eucharist, published last Holy Week, is perhaps the most important papal document of 2003.

According to the cardinal, the merit of the papal document, “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” is that it re-proposes “the indissoluble bond between the Church and the Eucharist,” as “there was the danger that it would be lost … in such an individualistic world.”

Later, the cardinal explained the scope of this proposal in response to questions by Vatican Radio.

“We know the force of violence in this world, the threats against peace and against the ethical foundations of humanity, which are confirmed in so many areas of legislation, especially in the technique of the reproduction of man, according to which man becomes a product,” Cardinal Ratzinger explained.

“From this stems the concern that the forces of faith be sufficiently present and dynamic to oppose effectively the threat of violence and to create a climate of forgiveness and justice, as a condition for peace,” he said.

“And, in order that faith really respond to the challenges of our time, it is important that it be solid, that is, that faith especially in Christ, be complete; that it understand that Christ is the incarnation of the only God and Savior of all men,” the cardinal added.

“Therefore, among the concerns is the great problem of relativism: to see Jesus Christ as one of the revealers of God, instead of really seeing in him really the incarnation of the Son of God,” he explained in his answer to the journalist.

During the meeting, the cardinal clarified that Christ, present in “the Eucharist, builds the Church.”

“But the reverse is also true,” he said. “The Church is the vital area of the Eucharist. It is not possible to receive the Eucharist as private nourishment and then shut oneself in one’s own individualism.”

“The Lord unites us and in this sense, he unites us among ourselves,” Cardinal Ratzinger said. “He is binding, in the sense that he makes us members of the Body of Christ, whose unity consists of the bonds of the profession of faith, of the sacraments, of the ecclesiastical governance, and of communion.”

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