Rome. Papal activities

Source: FSSPX News



On May 13, Pope John Paul II received the Indian bishops of the Syro-malabar and Syro-malankar rites for their ad limina visit. He received the bishops of each rite separately. In the presence of the Syro-malabar bishops – greeting in particular Cardinal Varkey Viathyathil – he insisted on their mission as “guardians of the liturgy”, putting them on their guard against “risky experimentation carried out by isolated priests who violate the very integrity of the liturgy and cause harm to the faithful”.

On this subject, one of the best means at the Pope’s disposal for safeguarding the liturgy is his own example. Yet the inculturation at papal Masses, in particular during his visits abroad, sometimes goes far beyond the abuses he condemns. We remember in particular the beatification ceremony of Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Angeles on August 1, last year in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, when the pagan ceremonies eventually upset the participants and the Pope himself. Even in Rome on certain occasions, the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica have witnessed ceremonies which no longer have much do to with authentic Catholic liturgy.

On May 22, the pope received a delegation of fifteen people from the World Congress of Jews, and the International Jewish Committee for inter-religious consultations. “Jews as well as Christians, we believe that our lives are a way toward the full accomplishment of the promises of God,” he declared. “The defense of the dignity of every human being is a cause to which all believers must be committed,” he added. “This kind of cooperation between Jews and Christians demands courage and the perspective as well as the truth that God brings about good out of our efforts”.

Eucharistic hospitality

“This has led here and there to ecumenical initiatives which, albeit well-intentioned, indulge in Eucharistic practices contrary to the discipline by which the Church expresses her faith. How can we not express profound grief at all this? The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation.”

Ecclesia de eucharistia, Introduction

“Keeping these invisible bonds intact is a specific moral duty incumbent upon Christians who wish to participate fully in the Eucharist by receiving the body and blood of Christ.”

Ecclesia de eucharistia, § 36

“The Eucharist, as the supreme sacramental manifestation of communion in the Church, demands to be celebrated in a context where the outward bonds of communion are also intact. In a special way, since the Eucharist is “as it were the summit of the spiritual life and the goal of all the sacraments”, it requires that the bonds of communion in the sacraments, particularly in Baptism and in priestly Orders, be real. It is not possible to give communion to a person who is not baptized or to one who rejects the full truth of the faith regarding the Eucharistic mystery.”

Ecclesia de eucharistia, § 38

“I grew up in a Catholic world in which Eucharistic piety was something obvious. In that world, the intellectual knowledge of the faith was limited, but one knew everything concerning the Mass; one knew that it was a reactualization of the sacrifice of the Cross, that it was a privileged place of graces, that God is present there in as real a manner as my own self is within me. (…)

I was able to free myself from this excessive esteem for the Eucharist in a Benedictine monastery, where we had daily Mass, for sure, but here we did not have Eucharistic worship, nor adoration of Bread. After half a lifetime spent in the Catholic religion, I converted – external circumstances oblige. I was then able to see how the Protestants relegate the Eucharist to second place. In the church of the Rhine, the Eucharist was an appendage added to the liturgy of the word, to which few of the faithful attended. (…)

Not long ago, I was able to attend a gathering of scientists invited by an Italian bishop. In the early morning, the bishop said the Mass. A professor, of Protestant confession, in the group, asked for Eucharistic hospitality. The bishop replied: “To he who asks for much, much will be given.” And the professor received Communion. His name was Christophe Morin, a Polish mathematician. The bishop was John Paul II, Bishop of Rome and Pope.”

Fulbert Steffensky, ex-Benedictine of the Maria-Laach monastery; quoted in an article which appeared on May 5, 2003, in Süddeutsche Zeitung, on the subject of Eucharistic hospitality at the time of the Kirchentag (a nationwide ecumenical manifestation).

Another article, which appeared in the German Catholic newspaper die deutsche Tagespost on May 15, 2003, touches on the same theme. It is necessary to know that in Germany, the approach of the Kirchentag, which this year is taking a very ecumenical trend (it is the first time that this manifestation has been organised in common by, and for, the two religions), has tackled again the subject of intercommunion. In this context, the encyclical has come at just the right moment. However, if the praxis contradicts the teaching, it is clear that the door opened by the former is nowhere near to being closed.

The article in question covers a symposium organised by the Cistercians on the occasion of the 850th anniversary of the death of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The Abbot of Mehrerau in Austria, gave the first conference and evoked, amongst other things, the Eucharistic piety of the saint: “Bernard would never have consented to intercommunion,” he affirmed. The article goes on: “In the context of the Kirchentag, the Abbot added that during a visit to Rome, he had occasion to see the Pope giving Communion to a person who did not fulfil all the conditions necessary to receive the Body of Christ. It cannot be denied that such a step might be a precedent which would set an example to others. The discussion which followed showed that the allusion to the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia was at the heart of many of the participants’ interest. Mgr. Hofmann stessed that: “The reactions to this encyclical have shown just how necessary it was. The teaching is much clearer, even though the Pope has otherwise allowed the Protestant founder of Taizé, Roger Schutz, to receive Communion.””