The Exhortations of “Sacramentum Caritatis”

Interview With Archbishop Nicola Eterovic

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2007 ( Benedict XVI’s postsynodal apostolic exhortation “Sacramentum Caritatis” appeals to all Christians and people of good will to end the scandal of hunger, says Archbishop Nikola Eterovic.

After Tuesday’s press conference presenting the exhortation, Archbishop Eterovic, the secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, spoke with ZENIT about the third part of the document, “The Eucharist, a Mystery to be Lived.”

Q: Is there any aspect of the teachings in the “Sacramentum Caritatis” that you would like to underline more than any others?

Archbishop Eterovic: Yes, the Holy Father shows us how the Eucharist is the source of life and of the mission of the Church, as is a life in holiness.

In two passages of the exhortation, in fact, the Holy Father mentions some saints as models of the Eucharistic existence.

These are the five blessed that were canonized at the end of the Synod of Bishops on October 23, 2005 — these were his first canonizations — because they “particularly distinguished for their Eucharistic piety”: the Polish Bishop Jozef Bilczewski; the priests Fathers Gaetano Catanoso, Zygmunt Gorazdowski and Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga; and the Capuchin brother Fra Felice da Nicosia — No. 4.

At the end of the exhortation, the Pope again mentions many saints, starting from the first centuries — No. 94 — who can be defined saints of the Eucharist.

Q: After having shown how, in the first two parts of the exhortation, each baptized person is called to “internalize” their Eucharistic life, through the deepening of faith, personal prayer, but also the proper celebration of the mystery of Trinitarian love in the liturgy, in the third part Benedict XVI uses strong and concrete words. Here the document indicates how to express the Christian Eucharistic existence in daily life, within a vast “cosmic” vision, calling to a “public witness to our faith” in values that “are not negotiable” — No. 83, referring to places with limited freedom of worship — No. 87, and in a particular way invites us to denounce “inhumane situations in which people starve to death because of injustice and exploitation” — No. 90.

Archbishop Eterovic: This is correct, all this also comes from the Eucharist: The gifts as we offer them are the fruits of nature, which are a gift from the good Lord. Creation is a good thing, but we can continuously see how these gifts are damaged by abuse and exploitation.

Also, this will be the fruit of “Eucharistic existence,” which will do everything possible to offer the following generations the possibility to bring the bread and wine in offering to the Lord’s altar, so that through the grace of the Holy Spirit and the words of the priests, they may be changed into the body and blood of Christ.

Q: In this sense, Christian ecology is not a type of “ideological” ecology but a true “Eucharistic” ecology?

Archbishop Eterovic: Yes, as with all aspects of Christian life the Eucharist must represent the spirituality that lights the life of each man and each woman, in all spheres of their activities. As well as in the relation with creation and with ecology.

Q: Benedict XVI faces the theme of globalization … of solidarity.

Archbishop Eterovic: Yes, like the negative sides of globalization, especially deploring the fact that, alas, the rich are always less, while the poor are always more, and often they do not get their “daily bread,” invoked every day in the Our Father.

This is a scandal — No. 91. The Holy Father mentions as an example that less than half of the amount destined to arms would suffice to feed the poor in the world — No. 90.

This constitutes a great responsibility for Christians. The Holy Father calls Christians, but also men of good will, to put an end to the scandal of hunger in the world.

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