VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of propositions, Nos. 11-15, given to Benedict XVI by the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.
The Pope has allowed the publication of a non-official provisional translation in Italian, on which this text is based. ZENIT plans to publish translations of all 50 propositions.
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Scarcity of Priests
The centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church makes the problem of the serious lack of priests in some parts of the world felt with acute pain. Many faithful are thus deprived of the Bread of life. To respond to the Eucharistic hunger of the People of God that often and for long periods must do without the Eucharistic celebration, it is necessary to take recourse to effective pastoral initiatives. In this context, the Synodal Fathers affirmed the importance of the inestimable gift of ecclesiastical celibacy in the praxis of the Latin Church.
Referring to the Magisterium, especially to the Second Vatican Council and to the Magisterium of the last Popes, the Fathers requested that the reasons for the relationship between celibacy and priestly ordination be properly explained to the faithful, in full respect of the tradition of the Eastern Churches. Some have alluded to the “viri probati” [priestly ordination of married men of proven virtue], but this theory has been considered as a path that must not be followed.
Moreover, it must be taken into account that the Christian quality of the community and its force of attraction have decisive weight when it comes to offering the Eucharistic gift to all the faithful. Specifically, it is about:
— urging pastors to promote priestly vocations; to discover them and to become their “heralds,” beginning with adolescents and paying attention to acolytes;
— not being afraid to propose to young people the radical nature of the following of Christ — to sensitize families, which in some cases are indifferent or even opposed;
— cultivating prayer for vocations in all communities and ecclesial realms;
— Bishops seeking — and also involving Religious Families, while respecting the charism proper to them — a more equitable distribution of the clergy and urging the clergy itself to greater willingness to serve the Church where there is need, even at the cost of sacrifice.
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Vocational Pastoral Program
By way of response to the Church’s urgent duty to offer the gift of the Eucharist to all faithful on a regular basis, and given the scarcity of priests in different places, we turn to the Lord and ask him persistently to send laborers to his harvest.
For our part, we intend to reinforce the vocational pastoral program and the vocational dimension of all pastoral care, especially of youth and the family. Therefore, we request
— that groups of altar servers be constituted and that they be given spiritual support;
— that Eucharistic adoration for vocations be spread in parishes, schools and ecclesial movements;
— that parish priests and all priests be encouraged to support young people spiritually and to form them, inviting them to follow Christ in the priesthood with their testimony;
— that a vocational center or minor seminary be organized, according to possibilities, in [local] Churches.
— that we, Bishops and priests, be committed in the first person in this kind of pastoral care, giving example of enthusiasm and piety.
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Catechesis and Mystagogy
The Sequence of Sacraments of Christian Initiation
The close connection between Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist is not sufficiently perceived. It is opportune, therefore, to explain that we are baptized and confirmed in function of the Eucharist. A better insertion must therefore be favored of the relationship between the three sacraments of Christian initiation in the celebration of each of these sacraments, regardless of the chronological order or the age of the celebration of Confirmation and First Communion. In this connection, an in-depth theological and pastoral study of Confirmation might be very valuable. All this, moreover, would have a positive value in ecumenical dialogue.
There could be renewed reflection on the appropriate age for Confirmation. Thought should also be given if in the Latin Church the sequence of Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion must be observed only for adults and not for children. The Latin tradition, which is differentiated from the Eastern tradition by the separation of the celebration of Confirmation from that of Baptism, has a raison d’être and a weight. On the other hand, the differences between the two traditions are not of a dogmatic nature. Both traditions, in fact, give a different practical answer to the identical situation of a great number of baptisms of children.
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Eucharist, Catechesis and Formation
The Eucharist, “mysterium fidei,” inscribed in God’s Covenant with his People, is the source of inspiration of all proposals of pastoral formation. The latter must present the profound relationship of the Eucharist with all the other sacraments, leading men and women of our time to a new life in Christ. With this objective, well-inculturated catechumenal endeavors will have to be developed, which include the presentation of the doctrinal content and introduction to the spiritual and moral life and to social commitment.
The whole People of God — bishops and parish priests, according to their specific responsibility — must be involved in this permanent formation promoted in each [local] Church, especially the faithful who are active in parishes and communities, such as catechists and evangelizers.
Seminarians especially will be given a solid formation in theological, liturgical and pastoral principles of an authentic Eucharistic spirituality. They must understand as well as possible the meaning of each liturgical norm.
Parishes and small communities that are a part of them must be schools of Eucharistic mystagogy. In this context, the cooperation will be sought of communities of consecrated life, of movements and of groups that reappraise, according to their own charisms, Christian formation.
In the framework of the new evangelization, we acknowledge the need to develop new forms of catechesis appropriate to the different situations and cultures. In this context, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the recent teachings of the Magisterium must be privileged points of reference.
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Family and Sacramental Initiation
It is necessary to associate the Christian family with the sacramental initiation of children. Access of children to the Eucharistic table must not be limited without a reason. First Communion, above all, is a step of great importance for a life committed to the path of holiness, full of charity, joy and peace. Every family, supported by the parish, the priests, consecrated persons, lay collaborators and, especially, Catholic schools, must foster a process of Eucharistic education.
The Church, family of God, grows and is nourished at the table of the Word of God and of the Body and Blood of Christ. The celebration of the Eucharist must increasingly promote at all levels the awareness and realization of a “Church family” through solidarity, family relations and communion among all the members of the community.