Eucharist Is the Heart of a Parish, Says Pope

Receives in Audience the Assembly of Council for the Laity

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2004 ( John Paul II told participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity that the Eucharist is «the heart of the parish.»

The parish is the «most immediate and visible expression of the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters,» said the Pope, when meeting the participants in audience today.

Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, accompanied the participants, who included the five members of the Executive Committee of the dicastery (all cardinals) and 37 council members.

«The parish,» the Holy Father explained, «is the vital cell in which the participation of the laity finds its natural place in the building and mission of the Church in the world.»

«It is a presence that constantly invites every man to confront the ultimate meaning of life; it is a door open to all, so that each one can access the path of salvation,» he said.

«In a word, the parish is the place par excellence for the proclamation of Christ and education in the faith. Precisely because of this, it is in need of renewal to become an authentic community, capable of a truly incisive missionary action,» the Pope insisted.

In this Year of the Eucharist, the Pope reminded the assembly’s participants that the «Eucharist is the heart of the parish, source of its mission and presence that renews it continually. In fact, the parish is a community of baptized persons who express their identity above all through the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice.»

The Pontifical Council for the Laity assists the Pope in all matters concerning the contribution that the lay faithful make to the life and mission of the Church. The council’s plenary assembly ends Sunday.

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