In his extensive new Apostolic Exhortation the Holy Father approached the topic of “Eucharistic consistency,” which he described as, “a quality which our lives are objectively called to embody.”
“Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others,” he said, “it demands a public witness to our faith.”
“Evidently,” the Holy Father continued, “this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms.”
“These values,” he said, “are not negotiable.”
“Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29).”
The Holy Father also reminded all Catholic bishops of their responsibility to encourage such an understanding of “Eucharistic consistency” in all the faithful of their diocese, adding that, “Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them.”
Pope Benedict reemphasized the social import of the Eucharist on the life of the world later in his document, noting that, “The union with Christ brought about by the Eucharist also brings a newness to our social relations: ‘this sacramental ‘mysticism' is social in character.’”
“Indeed,” he continued, quoting from his own document “Deus Caritas Est,” “‘union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own.’”
“The relationship between the eucharistic mystery and social commitment must be made explicit,” he said. “The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion between brothers and sisters who allow themselves to be reconciled in Christ, who made of Jews and pagans one people, tearing down the wall of hostility which divided them (cf. Eph 2:14). Only this constant impulse towards reconciliation enables us to partake worthily of the Body and Blood of Christ (cf. Mt 5:23-24).”
As such, he concluded, “it is not the proper task of the Church to engage in the political work of bringing about the most just society possible; nonetheless she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the struggle for justice.”
“The Church, he said, “has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper.”
Quoting the Fathers of the Eucharistic Synod, Pope Benedict added that, “All who partake of the Eucharist must commit themselves to peacemaking in our world scarred by violence and war, and today in particular, by terrorism, economic corruption, and sexual exploitation.”
“All these problems,” he said, “give rise in turn to others no less troubling and disheartening. We know that there can be no superficial solutions to these issues. Precisely because of the mystery we celebrate, we must denounce situations contrary to human dignity, since Christ shed his blood for all, and at the same time affirm the inestimable value of each individual person.”
For the complete text of “Sacramentum Caritatis” see the Vatican website here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20070222_sacramentum-caritatis_en.html
The sections quoted above are 83 and 89.
.- In his document on the Eucharist, “Sacramentum Caritatis,” released Tuesday morning, Pope Benedict XVI recalled that the defense of life and the protection of the family are “non negotiable” values for Catholic politicians and legislators who wish to be receive Communion in the Church.