- Europe english
A bread for unity
The International Theological Symposium (6-9 June)
A few days before the opening of the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Ireland, hosted a Theological Symposium about ecclesiology of communion 50 years after the Second Vatican Council (6-9 June). The topic was discussed by over 300 theologians from all over the world, from different perspectives: from the ecumenical to the pastoral and missionary perspective. Attention was also paid to young scholars, and a review was made of the Eucharist in Irish art and literature.
Communality. At the Symposium, Card. Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops and the Pope’s Legate to the International Eucharistic Congress, recalled that the Council explained the doctrine of Peter’s primacy by supplementing it with the one of the Episcopal communality. “The relationship between the universal Church and the particular Churches implies a communion between the bishops and with Peter’s successor, a communion that respects Peter’s primacy and the bishops’ communality. A lot of progress has been made since the Second Vatican Council, but such reflection must go on, both theologically and practically, so as to make ecclesial and Episcopal communion more and more faithful to the sacramental call of the Church”. Part of the Symposium was focussed on the foundations of ecclesiology of communion in the Scriptures and in the liturgy, with speeches from Nigeria and Germany, and in systematic theology. Mgr. Piero Coda, head of the University Institute Sophia of Loppiano, spoke of the “body given for you” as the source and form of ecclesial communion. Rereading the story of the Last Supper in Mark’s Gospel, he showed its Trinitarian structure: everything happens under the Father’s eyes, the Son makes God’s face visible, while the Spirit is in the shed blood.
The ecumenical perspective. A whole day was devoted to ecumenism. It was card. Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians, who spoke of the relationship between the Eucharist and ecclesial communion, from an ecumenical perspective. After an overview of the connections between the Eucharistic celebration and the Church in the Bible, he addressed the problem of the relation between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches and Protestant communities. “Christ’s body as an Eucharistic gift and Christ’s body as ecclesial communion between the christened ones forms one single invisible sacrament. Because Christ is one, the Eucharistic bread is also one. Because of its faithful partaking of communion with the only Christ in the only bread, the Church can only be one”. Other speeches about ecumenism were held by leaders of the Anglican and reformed world. Julie Canlis of Aberdeen University spoke of the communion in Calvin’s writings, while Geoffrey Wainwright from the Duke Divinity School went over the history of the relations between the World Methodist Council and the Catholic Church after the Council. Emmanuel Adamakis, metropolitan bishop of France and president of the Conference of European Churches, reflected on dialogue and communion in the light of Orthodox spirituality.
The missionary call. The interaction between communion and mission was also dealt with, with speeches about the evangelisation of Asia, the African missions and the Eucharistic celebration in secularised cultures. The main speaker was card. Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who, in one of his speeches, dealt with the issue of the Eucharist as the starting point and goal of the mission. “You don’t become Christian because of an ethical decision but because of an encounter”. The Eucharist is life-giving love and, as disciples and missionaries, Christians must bring to the world the fullness of life that God gave us. “We must be a Samaritan Church – said card. Maradiaga –, because evangelisation must always be supported by real human promotion. We have no other treasure, we have no other priority, but this: to be instruments of God’s Spirit for the Church, so that Jesus Christ may be encountered, may be followed, may be loved, may be worshipped, may be announced to everyone, despite difficulties and resistance. This is the service the Church can provide to the world”. Mentioning the many missionaries, including Irish ones, that gave their life for the mission, cardinal Maradiaga reiterated that devotion to the Eucharist is not a retreat into intimism. “The mission is not limited to a plan, it is an announcement from a person to another person, from a community to another community”.