Non-Catholic Delegates Agree: Future Hinges on Eucharist

11 Discuss Path to Christian Unity

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2005 ( Addresses at the Synod of Bishops by 11 delegates of other Christian denominations indicate that the path toward full unity depends on the relationship with the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Those delegates addressed the 252 synodal fathers in the assembly’s new hall on Tuesday. The non-Catholic delegates can address the assembly but not vote.

Nine of these delegates represented Orthodox or Apostolic Churches, while one was an Anglican and the other a Lutheran.

The representatives of the Eastern Churches, separated for at least a millennium from Rome, focused their addresses on their communities’ profound faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and gave testimonies of how this relationship with the sacrament is lived.

Metropolitan Johannis Zizioulas of Pergamum, the retired president of the Academy of Athens, Greece, and representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, said: “We Orthodox are deeply gratified by the fact that your synod, too, regards the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.”

The metropolitan expressed hope in the official theological dialogue which is now resuming between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches.

He added: “The ecclesiology of communion promoted by Vatican II and deepened further by eminent Roman Catholic theologians can make sense only if it derives from the Eucharistic life of the Church.”


For their part, the Anglican and Lutheran delegates protested about the lack of the possibility of partaking in Communion and of joint celebrations of the Eucharist with Catholics.

Anglican Bishop John Hind of Chichester, Great Britain, representing the Church of England, asked: “When is it appropriate to share holy Communion? How should we interpret the public giving of Communion to the Protestant Frère Roger Schutz?” Brother Roger was the founder of the Taizé Community.

Bishop Emeritus Per Lonning, of the Lutheran Church of Norway, censured the prohibitions that the synod’s working document puts on intercommunion and concelebration of the Eucharist.

“If we really believe the presence of Christ the Savior to be linked with the wonder of holy communion, how can we remain with our divided altars, and not hear the harsh question of the Apostle as directed to us: ‘Has Christ been divided?'” he asked.

The other Orthodox delegates who testified were: the Reverend Filippo Vasyktev of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow; Assistant Bishop Marsilianul Siluan of the Romanian Orthodox Church’s Metropolitan See of Western Europe; and the Reverend Ignatios Sotiriadis, representative of the Church of Greece to the European Union.

Also, Bishop Barnaba Amba of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Rome; Bishop Severius Malke Mourad of the Syro-Orthodox Patriarchate, Syria; Armenian Bishop Norvan Zakarian of Lyon, France; Bishop Nareg Alemezian, ecumenical officer of the Great House of Cilicia, Armenia; and Archbishop Samuel Abuna of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia.

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