Bishops from around the world, currently meeting in Rome for the Synod of Bishops continued their discussion yesterday and today on the role of the Eucharist in the modern world. As has been one of the major themes thus far, the prelates discussed how Eucharistic reverence can be more of a visible sign to the world and also looked at means for ecumenical dialogue with separated Christian siblings.
Archbishop Oswald Thomas Colman Gomes of Colombo, Sri Lanka addressed the Fathers this morning saying: "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", he lamented, "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."
Because "cultural patterns of people differ from continent to continent, and often from country to country," the Archbishop pointed out, "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."
Archbishop Gomes also briefly addressed what he called, "the serious problem of Christian fundamentalism which affects our belief in the Eucharist."
"This Synod", he said, "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."
Yesterday, during a time in which special delegates were allowed to address the Synod, Metropolitan Johannis Zizioulas of Pergamo, Greece, who brought a message of greeting from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Church of Constantinople, said that "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", he said, "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."
While, he said, "There may still be things that separate our two Churches... 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" Metropolitan Zizioulas pointed out, "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."
Likewise, the Rev. Filippo Vayltsev of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow stressed that, "The Eucharist is the central and most important point of the life of the Church and of every Christian."
Noting that preparation for communion in the Russian Orthodox Church includes strict fasting rules and compulsory confession, Rev. Vayltsev told the bishops that, "We would be very pleased if our experience of Eucharistic life, both past and present, proves useful and helpful to the Roman Catholic Church."