CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI’s message to the inter-Christian symposium on “The Eucharist in the Eastern and Western Tradition with Particular Reference to Ecumenical Dialogue.”
The symposium, being held in Assisi, Italy, through Wednesday, is organized by the Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum of Rome and the Department of Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessalonica, Greece.
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To the Venerated Brother
Cardinal Walter Kasper
President of the Pontifical Council
for Promoting Christian Unity
I have received with joy the news that in Assisi, oasis and call for peace, the 9th symposium is being held promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum and by the Faculty of Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessalonica, the city to whose first Christian community St. Paul sent two letters.
This initiative is an appropriate opportunity for a fraternal exchange, as well as to reflect and study further important topics of the common heritage of the faith, analyzing the implications it entails for Christian life. Seen as particularly urgent in our time is the search for full visible unity among all the disciples of Christ and for this reason, there is a need for a more profound spirituality of greater reciprocal love.
The topic being addressed this year, “The Eucharist in the Eastern and Western Tradition with Particular Reference to Ecumenical Dialogue,” is very significant for the life of Christians and for the reconstitution of full communion among all the disciples of Christ.
The Second Vatican Council reminded opportunely “with how much love Eastern Christians celebrate liturgical worship, above all the Eucharistic celebration, source of the life of the Church and pledge of future glory (“Unitatis Redintegratio,” No. 15), and explained that in virtue of the apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist “are united to us with very close links” (ibid.).
Dialogue and confrontation in truth and charity, which will be developed during the symposium, will certainly make the common faith emerge, as well as those theological and liturgical aspects peculiar to the East and West, which are complementary and dynamic for the building of the People of God and which are a richness for the Church. The absence of full communion does not allow, unfortunately, the concelebration that for both is the sign of that full unity to which we are all called. In any case, it will be a call to intensify prayer, study and dialogue with the objective of resolving the differences that still remain.
To achieve the full communion of Christians must be an objective for all those who profess faith in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, “faithful and shepherds alike. This concern extends to everyone, according to his talent, whether it be exercised in his daily Christian life or in his theological and historical research” (“Unitatis Redintegratio,” No. 5). The symposium, which follows in the tracks of other similar and fruitful ecumenical initiatives, brings to light the common commitment, search and study oriented to clarifying differences and overcoming misunderstandings. In this line, the institutes of theological teaching can play a fundamental role in the formation of the new generations and in offering renewed Christian witness in today’s world.
Invoking the Lord’s blessing upon the participants so that the symposium will be fecund in doctrinal, cultural and spiritual contributions, I send my cordial wishes with the words of the Apostle: “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (1 Thessalonians 5:28).
Castel Gandolfo, September 1, 2005
[Translation by ZENIT]