Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Synod: The Eucharist Determines the State of the Church’s Health

A diary of the first nine days of discussion. The two extremes: the loss of faith and martyrdom. Objections to the ordination of married men. The open case of divorced and remarried persons. The push for intercommunion with Protestants and Orthodox.

by Sandro Magister
Cardinal Edmund Szoka, for example, went so far as to decry the fact that “some of our priests, and even some bishops, have lost their faith in the Holy Eucharist, an celebrate Holy Mass as if it were simply a professional duty.” The result, as other European and Western synod fathers in particular have complained, is a dramatic decline in Mass attendance.
...Cardinal Cláudio Hummes of San Paolo in Brazil said he was more concerned:
“The number of Brazilians who declare themselves Catholics has diminished rapidly, on an average of 1% a year. In 1991 Catholic Brazilians were nearly 83%, today and according to new studies, they are barely 67%. We wonder with anxiety: how long will Brazil remain a Catholic country? In conformity with this situation, it has been found that in Brazil there are two Protestant pastors for each Catholic priest, and the majority from the Pentecostal Churches. Many indications show that the same is true for almost all of Latin America and here too we wonder: how long will Latin America remain a Catholic continent? The response of the Church in Brazil is, in the first place, the missions including the permanent home missionary visits. A missionary Church must be deeply eucharistic, for the Eucharist is the source of the mission.”
On the subject of the decline of the number of priests and the possibility of ordaining married men:
Various persons on various occasions have suggested that the shortage of priests be addressed by ordaining married men in the Latin Rite Church, as is already done in the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches.
In any case, at the present synod the cardinal relator [Angelo] Scola mentioned the hypothesis only in order to reject it...

...the most serious criticisms of ordaining married men came from exponents of the Eastern Rite Churches, in which married priesthood is the norm.
The subjects of "intercommunion" and Holy Communion for those who are divorced and remarried were also discussed.
But it is possible that something may change in regard to another question that has arisen during the synod discussions: communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.
Another question discussed at the synod is that of “intercommunion,” or the sharing of the Eucharist between Catholic Christians and those of other denominations, which is generally permitted only in exceptional cases.

After arguing that the very term “intercommunion” is “ambiguous and self-contradictory,“ cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, said that in this regard “Vatican Council II talks about two principles: the unity of the Church and the participation in the means of grace, asserting that the unity of the Church, on the most part, forbids the access of a non-Catholic to the Eucharist, but participation in the means of grace perhaps recommends it.”
More here.

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