VATICAN CITY, OCT. 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The most crucial issue for the Synod of Bishops is to rediscover the “Eucharistic amazement” that helped to propel the Christian faith worldwide, said the assembly’s general relator.
Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice made that point today when summarizing the “report before the discussion” which he presented in the Synod Hall to 256 synodal fathers, 12 delegates of other Christian confessions, and the auditors and experts attending the assembly.
The history of the Church, he said in a subsequent press conference, is made up of thousands and thousands of men and women of “whatever generation, class, race or culture,” who left their homes on Sundays to eat the Bread of Christ.
The patriarch of Venice read his report in Latin — the bishops were able to follow it thanks to simultaneous translation. Given its length, the cardinal read only a quarter of his address, as he told reporters later.
His objective was to report the most significant arguments of the “instrumentum laboris,” or working document, which includes the issues the synod will address, under the overall theme “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.”
As a participant in the synod, Benedict XVI also heard Cardinal Scola’s report.
“The difficulties lie in how to rekindle amazement, generated by the Eucharist, in the many non-practicing baptized persons,” Cardinal Scola acknowledged.
“Therefore, the announcement and the personal and community testimony of Jesus Christ to all men are necessary to incite vital and open Christian communities,” he said. “Outside of this Eucharistic and sacramental communion the Church is not fully constituted: The Eucharist makes the Church.”
From this conviction, the cardinal deduced, among other things, the reason why “Eucharistic Communion” requires “ecclesial communion,” which led him to pose the question of “intercommunion” — the possibility that non-Catholic persons might receive communion in the Eucharist — as one of the issues that will be studied further by the assembly.
With Cardinal Scola at the press conference was Coadjutor Bishop Pierre-Antoine Paulo of Port-et-Paix, Haiti. He lamented that the topics of the working document did not give more space to the relationship between ecumenism and Communion.
“I would have liked also that in the Synod an ecumenical celebration take place to make us understand that we are walking towards unity,” Bishop Paulo said.
For Cardinal Scola, the Eucharist is a “gift” of Jesus, therefore, it is “neither right nor possession, and he presented this perspective to address the ever more extended practice of “Sunday assemblies in absence of a presbyter.”
Such assemblies are common in those countries where the lack of priests is particularly acute. In general, a lay person prepared by the diocese offers a commentary on the Word and sometimes distributes Communion.
From this perspective he also addressed the topic of the “viri probati,” namely the request to ordain married faithful, of proven faith and virtues.
For the cardinal, there is no ideal number of priests, as the Church is not a “‘business’ which should be equipped with a determined quota of team managers.”
Instead, Cardinal Scola thinks the synod should propose criteria “for an adequate distribution of clergy in the world,” something he considers “very useful.”
Also present at the press conference was Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Imus, in the Philippines, who said that in his country the disproportion between priests and Catholics is enormous, something which leads many presbyters to celebrate up to nine Masses on Sundays.
The prelate acknowledged that his country’s bishops do not have an answer for this problem.
“We came to hear proposals, in particular of bishops from countries with similar problems, such as those from Latin America,” he said.
The last part of the report highlighted anthropological, cosmological and social dimensions of the Eucharist, in particular the inseparable links between the Eucharist and evangelization.
The discussions in the Synod Hall began this afternoon. Each participant was able to address the assembly for six minutes. From 6 to 7 p.m., for the first time in the synods, “free interventions” took place, allowing bishops to speak without having to address a predetermined topic.