The next International Eucharistic Congress, scheduled for January 2016 in the Philippines, will be a “mirror” for the Church in Asia to see its evangelization efforts.
This was a reflection shared today in the Vatican press office at the presentation of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, to take place in Cebu, Philippines from 24 to 31 January 2016 on the theme “Christ in you, our Hope of glory; the Eucharist, source and goal of mission”.
The speakers were Archbishop Jose S. Palma of Cebu, Philippines, Archbishop Piero Marini, Italy, president of the Committee for the International Eucharistic Congresses, and Fr. Vittore Boccardi, S.S.S., member of the same committee.
Archbishop Palma commented on the importance of the choice of Asia and the Philippines to host the Congress. “In recent years, Asia is the continent that has become one of the great engines of world growth in the economic and social point of view”, he said. “From the religious point of view, however, it is still a contingent that has to be evangelised; … where the Catholic Church is a small minority; in spite of being the continent where Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again. The 51st Eucharistic Congress, therefore, could become the mirror of the Asian Church in the sense that it will see how the Catholic Church carries out its task of evangelisation. As with the previous Congresses, representatives of the different Churches and a myriad of pilgrims from all over the world will be attending”.
The Congress, he continued, is expected to be attended by “around 20 cardinals, 50 bishops from other countries and at least 100 Filipino bishops who gather for the Catholic Bishops Conference Plenary Assembly in January 2016. As of October 2015, we already have 8,345 registered pilgrims representing 57 nations”. In addition, said Archbishop Palma, so far there are 600 registered host families ready to welcome pilgrims.
The events of the Congress will be divided into two main parts: the first, the “Theological Symposium”, will take place from 20 to 22 January, and the “Congress Proper”, from 24 to 31 January. The basic themes for reflection during the Theological Symposium are: “The Christian Virtue of Hope”; “Eucharist in the Gospel of St. John”; “Liturgy and Inculturation”; “The History of the Novus Ordo”; “Evangelising the Secular World” and “A Catechism on the Sunday Eucharist”. During the Congress Proper, the themes will be “Christ our Hope of Glory”; “Christian Hope”; “The Eucharist as Celebration of the Paschal Mystery”; “The Eucharist as Mission”; “Mission as Dialogue”; “The Eucharist and Dialogue with Cultures”; “The Eucharist and Dialogue with the Poor”; “The Eucharist and Dialogue with other Religions” and “The Eucharist and Mary”.
Archbishop Marini, with reference to the theme of the Congress, affirmed that “the evangelical announcement and faith in the Lord Jesus professed by the Christian community are important and necessary for Asia, but must be presented in accordance with the methods of dialogue, methods that have distinguished the activity of the particular Churches of the continent in the last thirty years. It is precisely this programme of dialogue with cultures, religious traditions and the multitudes of the poor that forms, in an entirely natural and evident way, the fabric of pastoral reflections contained in the basic text. The text explains that the Eucharist is the source and culmination of the mission of the Church and identifies the added value offered by the Eucharistic celebration for a mission that is committed to leavening through the enzymes of dialogue, reconciliation, peace and future, of which Asia is in great need”.
“The Eucharistic Congresses, then, will go to Cebu to recall that the mission is an exchange of gifts between those who announce and who receive the evangelical message”, he added. “They go to the city that is the cradle of Christianity in the East to give and to receive, to evangelise and to be evangelised, to speak but also to listen. In that human environment that is not linked to the labyrinth of rationalism, the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery is bound with the experience of poverty, suffering and affections and continues to build communities that wish to break bread in the Kingdom of God”.
Finally, Fr. Boccardi commented that the event in Cebu, along with the World Youth Days, World Family Day, and so on, will become “an extraordinary resource for bearing witness, through its celebration, to how the Eucharist is not only the source of life in the Church but also the place of its projection in the world. Every particular Church that celebrates the Eucharist in any part of the world, is called upon to demonstrate the maturity of giving to others, of mutual listening, of availability and concrete collaboration so that the community of faithful might become the house of God and of our brothers amid the homes of mankind. There it will be possible to live that ‘dialogue of life” that is a starting point for the joyful witness of the Gospel”.