Wednesday, October 12, 2005

'Fraternal' comments

During the Fourteenth General Congregration, the fraternal delegates had an opportunity to speak. These included not only several delegates from the Orthodox Church, but also the representative of the Anglican Communion.

Read the complete article Fourteenth General Congregation from Vatican Information Service.

The general theme of their comments was of course the Eucharist. As Metropolitan Johannis Zizioulas of Greece noted,

"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."

Bishop John Hind of Chichester, England on behalf of the Anglicans asked for the prayers of the Synod during the difficult times the Communion is going through. He then went on to discuss the Eucharist. After recalling the instance of Roger Schutz receiving Communion earlier this year, he went on, saying that a reasoned view of what is a 'mystery of faith' is not the best way:

"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."

Given the tenor of the comments so far from a good number of the Synod Fathers, Bishop Hind's words are perhaps a little late if they are meant to bring a different view of the Eucharist to the fore. Reliving the 'act' of the Sacrifice of Christ as a means of fraternal brotherhood is a tiny bit different from the Transubstantiation and the reception of Christ Himself...

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