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VATICAN CITY, OCT 12, 2005 (VIS) - Psalm 121, "the joy of reaching Jerusalem, the holy city upon which we wish peace," was the theme of the Benedict XVI's catechesis during the general audience held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 50,000 people.
Jerusalem, said the Pope, "a city 'bound firmly together,' symbol of security and stability, is the heart of the unity of the twelve tribes of Israel which converge upon the city as the center of their faith and their worship. ... Jerusalem contains another important element, which is also a sign of God's presence in Israel: the 'thrones for judgement' of the house of David: the dynasty of David is reigning, an expression of divine action in history."
"Thus Jerusalem, the political capital, was also the highest judicial center where controversies were ultimately resolved. And so, leaving Sion, Jewish pilgrims returned to their villages pacified and with a greater sense of justice."
The Holy Father went on to explain how the psalm also defines the city in terms of its "religious and social function, showing that biblical religion is neither abstract nor intimistic but is a ferment of justice and solidarity. Communion with God is necessarily followed by communion between brothers."
Benedict XVI observed that the invocation with which the psalm ends emphasizes the Jewish word 'shalom' (peace), which "alludes to the Messianic peace that contains within itself joy, prosperity, goodness and abundance, ... and anticipates St. Francis' greeting of 'peace and goodness'."
In closing, the Pope recalled the figure of St. Gregory the Great who, in his "Homilies on Ezequiel," writes that the holy city of Jerusalem "is already being built here in the customs of the saints. In a building, one stone supports another, ... and he who supports someone is in his turn supported by someone else. Thus, precisely thus, in the Holy Church each supports and is supported."
It must not be forgotten, the Holy Father concluded, that "there is a foundation that supports the entire weight of the building, and that is our Redeemer, ... of Whom the Apostle writes: 'no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ'." AG/PSALM 121/... VIS 20051012 (380)
VATICAN CITY, OCT 12, 2005 (VIS) - This morning in the Synod Hall, the Fifteenth general Congregation of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, and 239 Synod Fathers were present.
Given below are excerpts from some of the speeches delivered this morning by Synod Fathers and auditors:
ARCHBISHOP OSWALD THOMAS COLMAN GOMES OF COLOMBO, SRI LANKA. "We have to promote a visible demonstration of our faith in the Eucharistic Lord. And this has to be done more in deed than in word. Reference has already been made here to many abuses and aberrations in the celebration of the Eucharist and gross lack of reverence for the Most Blessed Sacrament. ... Particular reference has been made to secularism and relativism. It is unfortunate that these are even creeping into Asia. While respecting common liturgical norms we need to make a deep study of the cultural patterns of the various worshippers and have them integrated to our liturgy. The cultural patterns of people differ from continent to continent, and often from country to country. Therefore liturgists in these respective areas will have to make a study of these patterns and integrate the highest forms of adoration into the adoration of the Eucharist. ... Finally, today we have the serious problem of Christian fundamentalism which affects our belief in the Eucharist. This Synod has to address its mind to this danger. Else it would be like an effort to plant a beautiful tree - our faith in the Eucharist - when there is a dangerous virus attacking it."
BISHOP ANGEL FLORO MARTINEZ I.E.M.E., OF GOKWE, ZIMBABWE. "Let me inform you of the main challenges our faithful are facing, not of a theological but of a pastoral nature. The first challenge concerns the availability or accessibility of the Eucharist to many of our Catholics. The shortage of priests and the scattering of our faithful in our vast rural areas means that priests are available to them for the Eucharist only once a month, every two months or even longer. This challenges the centrality of the Eucharist in the lives of our Catholics. Could our rural Christian communities that rely mostly on the celebration of the Word be called Eucharistic communities? This is an interesting question that could be discussed in our working groups. The second challenge concerns the Eucharist and Marriage. The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC) published a second pastoral letter on the Eucharist this year under this heading, exhorting the faithful to appreciate the greatness of the Eucharist and its deep relationship with the dignity of the Sacrament of Marriage, and to regularize their situation. Many Catholics who used to receive the Eucharist in their youth no longer do so in their adult lives because of irregular marriages."
CARDINAL GEORGE PELL, ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA. "Many Synod Fathers have spoken of the difficulties experienced by the Church throughout the world. Some of these are caused by our own mistakes. Vatican Council II brought great blessings and substantial gains, for example, continuing missionary expansion and the new movements and communities. But it was also followed by confusion, some decline, especially in the West, and pockets of collapse. Good intentions are not enough. ... My recommendations to the Synod on how to deal with these 'shadows' presuppose the maintenance in the Latin Church of the ancient tradition and life giving discipline of mandatory celibacy for the diocesan clergy as well as the religious orders. To loosen this tradition now would be a serious error, which would provoke confusion in the mission areas and would not strengthen spiritual vitality in the First World. It would be a departure from the practice of the Lord Himself, bring significant practical disadvantages to the work of the Church, e.g. financial, and weaken the sign value of the priesthood; it would weaken, too, the witness to loving sacrifice, and to the reality of the Last Things, and the rewards of Heaven. ... Communion services or liturgies of the Word should not be substituted for Mass, when priests are available. Such unnecessary substitutions are often not motivated by a hunger for the Bread of Life, but by ignorance and confusion or even by hostility to the ministerial priesthood and the Sacraments."
BISHOP LUIGI PADOVESE O.F.M. Cap., APOSTOLIC VICAR OF ANATOLIA, TURKEY. "I speak as bishop of the Church of Anatolia, an area that saw the first great expansion of Jesus' message and in which Christians are now reduced to just a few thousand. The only Christians in the city of Tarsus, homeland of the Apostle Paul, are three nuns who welcome pilgrims; pilgrims who must get a permit in order to celebrate the Eucharist in the only remaining church-museum. The same is true for the church-museum of St. Peter in Antioch. In that city was born John Chrysostom, the 16th centenary of whose death in exile falls in 2007. With his homilies, Chrysostom reminds us that the Eucharist was and is the privileged place for announcing Christ. His memory, as well as the more recent recollection of bishops such as Clemens von Galen and Oscar Romero, is a living testimony of the bond between the memorial of Jesus' sacrifice and the people who found therein the motivation and strength for a proclamation undertaken with intelligence and courage and frankness."
BR. ALVARO RODRIGUEZ ECHEVERRIA F.S.C., PRESIDENT OF THE UNION OF SUPERIORS GENERAL, COSTA RICA. "The 'Instrumentum laboris' of the Synod underlines the Church's hope in its young people. Young people today, living in globalized cultures marked by the incessant change of perspectives, and in a society ruined by so much economic insecurity and by the glorification of violence, find it difficult to articulate the story of their lives in a way that gives meaning, direction and purpose to their youthful dreams. Today more than yesterday, then, we need to satisfy the thirst and hunger felt by young people as they search for a mystical experience of union with Jesus. There is not doubt that He is a force attracting young people today. ... Drinking from the source that is the Eucharist, ... they also find the strength to discover in this world their own crucified brothers and sisters, those who suffer under the oppression of wars, of violence, of hunger. Those without a future. From this source and summit, they come away burning with a new passion, and with the strength of grace to participate in the Church's mission in society and in the world. ... The Eucharist is also the summit whence all (young people's) actions flow. In this way, the Eucharist is not unconnected to the social and political concern felt by Christ's disciples among the men and women of the world, especially among the poor."
MOYSES LAURO DE AZEVEDO FILHO, FOUNDER AND MODERATOR GENERAL OF THE SHALOM CATHOLIC COMMUNITY, BRAZIL. "One of the most important fruits of the Eucharist which we must cultivate is 'parresia.' Parresia is a Greek word which in the New Testament takes on the meaning of audacity in proclaiming Christ. In the period of carnival, in Brazil, when youngsters are exposed to serious dangers, the Catholic Shalom Community promoted ... a moment of adoration before the Most Holy Sacrament. It was impressive to see what many consider impossible: one hundred thousand young people in deep adoring silence before the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This was a prelude to Cologne. Even more impressive were the fruits of this and of other actions of this type: many conversions, a large number of confessions, commitment to the Church with a return to participation in Mass, an awakening of priestly vocations, and love and service to the poor. We discovered that the best reply to the challenge of secularization is to present Christ with audacity!" SE/FIFTEENTH CONGREGATION/... VIS 20051012 (1310)
VATICAN CITY, OCT 11, 2005 (VIS) - During the Fourteenth General Congregation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held this afternoon in the Vatican's Synod Hall, apart from speeches by the Synod Fathers, the fraternal delegates were given an opportunity to address the gathering. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez.
At the start of this afternoon's session, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, recalled that today is the 43rd anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II and the feast of Blessed John XXIII.
Following are excerpts of some of the speeches delivered by fraternal delegates and Synod Fathers:
METROPOLITAN JOHANNIS ZIZIOULAS OF PERGAMO, GREECE. "It is a great honor for me to be given the opportunity to address this venerable episcopal Synod and bring to it the fraternal greetings and best wishes of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Church of Constantinople. The invitation to our Church to send a fraternal delegate to this Synod is a gesture of great ecumenical significance. We respond to it with gratitude and love. We Orthodox are deeply gratified by the fact that your Synod also regards the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church. It is extremely important that Roman Catholics and Orthodox can say this with one voice. There may still be things that separate our two Churches but we both believe that the Eucharist is the heart of the Church. It is on this basis that we can continue the official theological dialogue of our two Churches, which is now entering a new phase. Eucharistic ecclesiology can guide us in our efforts to overcome a thousand years of separation. For it is a pity to hold the same conviction of the importance of the Eucharist but not be able to share it at the same table."
REV. FILIPPO VAYLTSEV OF THE PATRIARCHATE OF MOSCOW, RUSSIA. "The Eucharist is the central and most important point of the life of the Church and of every Christian. Hence, the weakening of Eucharistic awareness leads to a destruction of ecclesiastic awareness, ... and to errors in the understanding of Christian values. ... We would be very pleased if our experience of Eucharistic life, both past and present, proves useful and helpful to the Roman Catholic Church. ... It must not be forgotten that preparation for communion in the Russian Orthodox Church also includes, apart from inner preparation, 'The Rule' (strict fasting for three days, visits to Church during these three days, prayers for communion, and special Eucharistic fasting after midnight), and Confession is also compulsory. However, these strict rules are seen by the Church not as an obligation, but as a measure that was formed historically in accordance with tradition, and that people apply to themselves."
MOR SEVERIUS MALKE MOURAD OF THE SYRO-ORTHODOX PATRIARCHATE, SYRIA. "In our Syrian Orthodox Church, we celebrate the divine liturgy in Syriac-Aramaic, the language of our Lord Jesus; and during the divine liturgy the very same words which Jesus said in the Upper Room are recited. And the priest who celebrates this Sacrament, has to celebrate it alone. I feel proud that I live in the Monastery of St. Mark in the Old City of Jerusalem, where Jesus had His Last Supper. ... The presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist is not only His bodily presence, but all His fullness in humanity and divinity. So Lord Jesus is present in all parts of the two elements. ... St. Paul the Apostle exhorts the believer to spiritually prepare himself before he comes to receive holy communion with faith, reverence and a pure conscience, and should cleanse his body and observe the pre-communion fast at 12 midnight. We used to give the sacraments of holy communion to the children immediately after they receive the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation."
BISHOP NAREG (MANOUG) ALEMEZIAN, ECUMENICAL OFFICIAL OF THE GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA, ARMENIA. "The Armenian word used to designate the Holy Eucharist is 'Surp Patarag,' which means holy sacrifice. In the liturgical life of the Church we are at God's service (liturgy) and offer sacrifice of thanksgiving (Eucharist) for gifts received from Him. Holy Eucharist is centered on the sacrificial giving of our Savior and generating a communion of love with God and our fellow beings by the power of the Holy Spirit. ... In assessing the constructive role of bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogues in discussing the theme of 'Church as Communion,' I encourage all of us to engage in the study of Eucharistic ecclesiology, which situates the unity of the Church in the local celebration of the Holy Eucharist presided over by the bishop in communion with his brother bishops. In this respect, the distinctive role of the bishop is underlined as the one who takes care of the flock entrusted to him by the Good Shepherd, tending it with a love that is most fully revealed in the Eucharistic partaking of the one bread for a spiritual and universal communion in the mystical Body of Christ."
BISHOP JOHN HIND OF CHICHESTER, ENGLAND. "I bring greetings from the Archbishop of Canterbury and request for prayers for Anglicans at a difficult time. ... When is it appropriate to share holy communion? How should we interpret the public giving of communion to the Protestant Frere Roger Schutz? The Eucharist is not primarily a matter or rite or ceremonial but a living of the new life in Christ. If it is to be truly Christian, there must be criteria for mutual recognition. No less important is the extent to which we suffer with each other. ... In the Eucharist it is not our fellowship that is being celebrated, but our reconciliation with God which creates our fellowship. ... If the Eucharist is itself 'Mysterium fidei' then it must follow that our fellowship or communion in the Church is also a 'mysterion,' in other words, speaking something we cannot understand by reason alone. Finally, being united with Christ in His self offering orients us not only towards God but also towards every single one of our human brothers and sisters, for whom in their amazing diversity the Son of God gave His life."
CARDINAL GERALDO MAJELLA AGNELO, ARCHBISHOP OF SAO SALVADOR DA BAHIA, BRAZIL. "We know how, from the first centuries of Christianity, special attention was paid to faithful who could not participate in the celebration of Eucharistic sacrifice, which was why the conservation of the Eucharist was instituted, to meet the various requirements of such situations. ... I would like to underline the situation of the sick, prisoners and elderly people who have difficulty in moving independently. I would also mention here the need to train lay faithful to promote visits by a priest for sacramental reconciliation, and then to continue their pastoral care by bringing Eucharistic communion. Today, many persons feel alone because they lack close relatives, or because they have been placed in permanent nursing homes, or due to the difficulties in walking that force them to remain confined to their beds with no possibility of receiving visits from relatives and friends, or even rejected because they are no longer productive. In a world with so many means of communication, people, even healthy people, often live in isolation and silence. However, in moments of suffering people become sensitive and needful of an expression of God's goodness and mercy. Thus God needs our efforts and our testimony to fulfill the experience of His love." SE/FOURTEENTH CONGREGATION/... VIS 20051012 (1260)