Key Question: How Is Jesus Present in the Eucharist?

Father F.J. Moloney, Expert at Synod, Responds

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2005 ( The Synod of Bishops is correct in noting Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, but it must face the question of how is he present, says an expert attending the assembly.

Salesian Father Francis J. Moloney, foundation professor of theology at the Australian Catholic University, delivered the Raymond Brown Lecture at the Lay Center, a facility in Rome that houses lay people who are studying at pontifical universities in the city.

Father Moloney, the Katharine Drexel Professor at the Catholic University of America and dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the university, emphasized that the Eucharist has very clear biblical roots and that these are based on a paschal meal that actualizes the liberating action of God.

Father Moloney has been a member of the International Theological Commission for 18 years. At present he is in Rome serving as an expert to the Synod of Bishops.

The priest said to the students attending the talk that “Jesus is present in the Eucharist. But the pastoral question still remains: How is he present?”

The question has two answers, according to this New Testament scholar: in the memorial and the sacrifice.

The memorial is not a memory but as “a recalling today and now” and the sacrifice is not a repetition of the unique sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary but a memorial, now, of this sacrifice.

Experts’ turn

Father Moloney wondered what Jesus meant with the phrase “You do this.” “Who are these ‘you’?” and “What is this ‘this’?” he asked.

For him, “it primarily means that you break your bodies and spread your blood in memory of Me,” indicating that the Eucharist has direct implications in the life of those who take part in it, the Salesian said.

Father Moloney said that the level of the interventions in the synod have not always had the desirable biblical and theological depth. He explained that now is the time for the experts in the Synod of Bishops to act as they must to make the propositions “sound” right theologically, biblically and pastorally.

This expert in the synod said that he worked 18 years with then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

“I have never met a more intelligent man,” the priest said. He added that he is certain that the Pope will write a brilliant postsynodal exhortation “whatever the propositions are.”

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