Pope Calls Worldwide Synod of Bishops on Eucharist

Scheduled for October 2005

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II has convoked a worldwide Synod of Bishops, from Oct. 2-29, 2005, to reflect on the Eucharist.

The theme of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be «The Eucharist: Source and Culmination of the Life and Mission of the Church,» the Vatican press office said today.

The Pope dedicated his last encyclical, «Ecclesia de Eucharistia,» to the Blessed Sacrament. In No. 10 of that encyclical, he explains that the document was necessary because, although «the liturgical reform inaugurated by the [Second Vatican] Council has greatly contributed to a more conscious, active and fruitful participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar on the part of the faithful,» unfortunately «alongside these lights there are also shadows.»

«In fact, there are places where there is almost total abandonment of the practice of Eucharistic adoration,» he writes. «To this must be added, in different ecclesial contexts, certain abuses that contribute to darken correct faith and Catholic doctrine on this admirable Sacrament.»

«The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation,» the Holy Father concludes.

The Pope’s interest and concern about the faithful’s participation and their relation to this sacrament is reflected in his recent apostolic letter «Spiritus et Sponsa,» on the 40th anniversary of the Vatican II constitution «Sacrosanctum Concilium.»

The Pontiff chooses the subject of synodal assemblies after consulting patriarchs, bishops’ conferences, Roman Curia officials, and the Union of General Superiors.

Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the newly appointed secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, is responsible for preparing the synod.

The synodal assemblies, which have a consultative character, were introduced by Pope Paul VI. The Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, with the help of theologians, will prepare a «lineamenta,» or outline, for the topic. The outline will be sent to bishops worldwide to promote study, debate and prayer on the synod.

After receiving input from bishops and episcopal conferences, the secretariat will produce a working document for the synod discussions.

The bishops will send a summary of the conclusions of the synod to the Pope, to assist him in writing the postsynodal apostolic exhortation.

The synod’s last general assembly, on the figure of the bishop, took place Sept. 26-Oct. 25, 2001. It concluded a series of synodal assemblies on the diverse vocations and states of life in the Church, in light of Vatican II.

A synod on the laity was held in 1987, another on the formation of priests in 1991, and a third on consecrated life in 1995.

The 1983 synod was dedicated to the sacrament of reconciliation. The first synod called by John Paul II, in 1980, focused on the family.

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