Eucharist Is Key, Cardinal Tells Charismatics

For Unity and Evangelization, Says Vatican Prefect

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Aware of the Charismatic movements' concern for the ecclesial challenge of "communion and mission," Cardinal Francis Arinze says that the answer to these challenges is in the Eucharist.



The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments presided Tuesday at the closing Mass of the 11th International Conference of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships. The conference had been held in Fiuggi, Italy. The Mass was celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica.

The fraternity is an organization of pontifical right that brings together more than 50 communities of Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

The fraternity's international conference gathered more than 1,200 delegates from 70 countries, to reflect on "Communion and Mission in the Third Millennium," and to further its bonds with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the dicastery responsible for the laity's apostolate in the Catholic Church.

The theme of the conference "was in full harmony with the Year of the Eucharist, opened recently by the Holy Father," Cardinal Arinze said in his homily to 1,000 Charismatic delegates, who came on pilgrimage to St. Peter's tomb.

"Communion arises from the Eucharist and is manifested in it," he said. This means, in the first place, "communion with Jesus himself," because "to receive the holy Eucharist is to enter in profound communion with Jesus … who says to us: 'He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."

The Eucharist is also "source and manifestation of ecclesial communion" because "in the Eucharistic mystery, Jesus builds the Church as communion" and "fosters communion among all of us because we receive the same body and blood of Christ," Cardinal Arinze continued.

"At the end of the Mass," he added, "we are sent … to live what we have heard, meditated, sung, prayed."

"The Eucharist sends us on mission," the cardinal told the Charismatic delegates. "It sends us also to promote justice, peace and harmony in society."

"All apostolate in every state of life -- bishops, priests, consecrated persons, married couples, the single -- arises from the Eucharist and receives strength from it," he said.

In this context, the mission of the Charismatics in the Church represents "a considerable contribution" that must be encouraged, Cardinal Arinze said later on Vatican Radio.

Charismatics "help us to pay more attention to the Holy Spirit, who teaches us how to pray, how to witness to Jesus in society," he continued. This emphasizes this aspect of our faith: "to witness to Jesus as the Apostles did after Pentecost," who "were no longer afraid."

"We Catholics don't provoke anyone, but we mustn't be afraid to confess our faith in public," the cardinal exhorted.

With "two-thirds of humanity who do not yet know Jesus or don't accept him" and geographic areas "that need to be re-evangelized. … We cannot remain indifferent," Cardinal Arinze warned.

"This is why the Pope speaks of a new evangelization. New not in content, but in method, in the impetus, in the spirit with which we proclaim Jesus," he said.

In this connection, the responsibility of the laity was "particularly emphasized by the Second Vatican Council, which stated that the Church cannot carry out her mission if the laity does not do its part," the cardinal said.

The laity is irreplaceable, he said. It "must take the Spirit of Christ to the family, politics, workplace, leisure, the media, and also national and international relations."

Charismatic Renewal embraces some 600 million Christians worldwide, including 120 million Catholics.