10/12/2005, 00.00
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Synod's solidarity with Pakistan quake victims

"Brother Delegates" speak at the Synod. Orthodox stress closeness to Catholics; Protestants talk of inter-communion.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The bishops attending the Synod have sent messages pledging their prayers for the victims of the Pakistani quake and hurricane Stan in Central America, thus renewing the Pope's invitation to solidarity. They devoted yesterday morning's mass just for that purpose.

Today in their message to Mgr Lawrence Saldanha, Archbishop of Lahore and chairman of the Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, and addressed to quake survivors, the bishops joined "the Holy Father in offering their prayers for those who lost their lives and comfort for those who survived . . . inviting Christians and all people of good will to take part in the humanitarian effort."

"Brother Delegates" invited to the Synodal Assembly from the Orthodox and Protestant Churches also spoke. The Orthodox stressed the Eucharist's central place as a element that unites them to Catholics. Protestants talked especially about inter-communion.

For us, too, the Eucharist has a central place, say the Orthodox

"We Orthodox," said Pergamo Metropolitan Johannis Zizoulas on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, "are deeply gratified by the fact that your Synod, too, regards the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church."

"It is extremely important that Roman Catholics and Orthodox can say this with one voice. 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."

Hieromonk Philip Vasyltsev from the Moscow Patriarchate said for his part that the Synod's subject "is close and current in our Church. The Eucharist plays an extremely important and central role in the life of the Church and of every Christian. For this reasons, weakening the Eucharist conscience weakens the ecclesiastic conscience, leads to a shift in focus and to errors in understanding Christian values".

Why the opposition to inter-communion, ask Protestants

Lutheran Bishop Per Lonning from Norway asked instead why the Catholic Church—even in its preparatory paper—persists in condemning inter-communion, whilst entertaining relations with Protestants under other circumstances. He then listed a number of places and circumstances in which he personally participated in inter-communion.

John Hind, Anglican Bishop of Chichester in Great Britain, agreed. He asked himself the question as to when "it would appropriate to share the Holy Communion".

Vatican Secretary of State Card Angelo Sodano dealt with the issue of inter-communion yesterday. "The Eucharist," he noted, "is always an invitation to the unity of all the disciples of Christ [. . .] However, a delicate problem is the attitude that we must show towards our separated brothers, who desire to participate in the Eucharist celebrated in our Holy Church."

"On my part, however, I would like to recall that, to favour unity with our separated brothers, we must not be divided ourselves. And the sure way avoid division is faithfulness to the current discipline of the Church."

Referring to John Paul II's teachings in preparation of the Year of the Eucharist, Cardinal Sodano reiterated the late Pontiff's opposition to a practice that is acceptable only under special and predetermined cases.

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