Ecclesia de Eucharistia 44

More on ecumenism:

44. Precisely because the Church’s unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord’s sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty, (Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 908; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Canon 702; Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Ecumenical Directory, 25 March 1993, 122-125, 129-131: AAS 85 (1993), 1086-1089; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Ad Exsequendam, 18 May 2001: AAS 93 (2001), 786.) in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council. (“Divine law forbids any common worship which would damage the unity of the Church, or involve formal acceptance of falsehood or the danger of deviation in the faith, of scandal, or of indifferentism”: Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 26.)

I accept the essence of this teaching, that Eucharistic sharing is not an easy, magical means, nor should it gloss over serious differences. And yet, it seems Pope John Paul II makes this point too strongly. The legal citations date from 1983. And they appear to place too much of an obstacle in the way of local discernment–times when shared worship may well be an expression to cultivate a spirit of unity in believers themselves. Why is this important? To inspire skeptics to consider, and to give more ardent ecumenists hope.

I would like nonetheless to reaffirm what I said in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint after having acknowledged the impossibility of Eucharistic sharing: “And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so ‘with one heart’”. (No. 45)

This citation from Ut Unum Sint is, however, hopeful and helpful.

But the bottom line here is that I’m not convinced enough Roman Catholics have a proper desire for unity. We have too much of a tradition of entitlement: we are in the right, we were historically wronged, and people should return to us. In some instances, it is spiritual laziness.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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