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Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
I am happy to receive you at the end of the works of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. I greet each of you cordially, in particular the president, Archbishop Piero Marini, whom I thank for the courteous expressions with which he introduced our meeting. I greet the national delegates of the episcopal conferences and, in a special way, the Irish delegation, led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, city in which the next International Eucharistic Congress will take place in June 2012.
Your assembly has dedicated much attention to this event, which is also inserted in the program of renewal of the Church in Ireland. The theme, "The Eucharist, Communion with Christ and Among Ourselves," reminds us of the centrality of the Eucharistic mystery for the growth of the life of faith and for every genuine path of ecclesial renewal. The Church, while on pilgrimage on earth, is a sacrament of unity of men with God and among themselves (cf. Second Vatican Council, dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium," No. 1). To this end, she has received the Word and the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, of which she "lives and grows continually" (ibid., No. 26), and in which at the same time she expresses herself.
The gift of Christ and of his spirit, which we receive in the Eucharist, fulfills with superabundant fullness the longing for fraternal unity that harbors in the human heart, and at the same time raises it well above the simple human convivial experience. Through communion with the Body of Christ, the Church becomes ever more herself: mystery of "vertical" and "horizontal" unity for the whole human race. Opposed to the germs of disintegration, which daily experience shows so rooted in humanity because of sin, is the generating force of unity of the Body of Christ, the Eucharist, continually forming the Church, which also creates communion among men.
Beloved, some happy circumstances render largely significant the works you have undertaken in these days and future events. The present assembly falls -- as Archbishop Marini has already said -- on the 50th anniversary of the Eucharistic Congress of Munich, which marked a turning point in the understanding of the ecclesial events elaborating the idea of "statio orbis," which will be taken up later by the Roman Ritual "De sacra Communione et de cultu Mysterii eucharistici extra Missam." As Archbishop Marini also recalled, I had the joy of participating personally in that meeting, as well as to witness the growth of that concept, as a young professor of theology. Moreover, the 2012 Dublin Congress will have a jubilee character, in fact it will be the 50th congress, and it will be held likewise 50 years from the opening of Vatican II, to which the theme makes explicit reference, recalling Chapter 7 of the dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium."
Moreover, the International Eucharistic Congresses have a long history in the Church. Through the characteristic form of "statio orbis," they highlight the universal dimension of the celebration: In fact, it is always a celebration of faith around the Eucharistic Christ, the Christ of the supreme sacrifice for humanity, to which the faithful participate not only those of a particular Church or nation, but, in so far as possible, from several places of the globe. It is the Church that recollects itself around its Lord and God. Important in this regard is the role of the national delegates. They are called to sensitize the respective Churches to the event of the congress, above all in the period of its preparation, so that from it will flow fruits of life and of communion.
Task of the Eucharistic Congresses, above all in the present context, is also that of giving a peculiar contribution to the new evangelization, promoting mistagogic evangelization (cf. postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 64), which is carried out in the school of the Church at prayer, starting from the liturgy and through the liturgy. However, every congress bears in itself an evangelizing inspiration in a more strictly missionary sense, so much so that the binomial Eucharist-mission becomes part of the guidelines proposed by the Holy See. The Eucharistic table, table of sacrifice and of communion, thus represents the diffusing center of the ferment of the Gospel, propelling force for the construction of the human society and pledge of the Kingdom that is coming. The Church's mission is in continuity with that of Christ: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (John 20:21). And the Eucharist is the principal means of this missionary continuity between God the Father, the incarnate Son, and the Church that journeys in history, guided by the Holy Spirit.
Finally, I leave you with a liturgical-pastoral indication. Because the Eucharistic celebration is the center and summit of all the various manifestations and forms of piety, it is important that every Eucharistic congress is able to involve and integrate, according to the spirit of the conciliar reform, all the expressions of the Eucharistic worship "extra missam" that sink their roots in popular devotion, as well as the associations of the faithful that in various titles of the Eucharist bring inspiration. All Eucharistic devotions, recommended and encouraged also by the encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" (Nos. 10; 47-52) and by the postsynodal exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," are harmonized according to an Eucharistic ecclesiology oriented to communion. Also in this sense the Eucharistic congresses are a help to the permanent renewal of the Eucharistic life of the Church.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharistic apostolate to which you dedicate your efforts is very precious. Persevere in it with commitment and passion, encouraging and spreading Eucharistic devotion in all its expressions. Enclosed in the Eucharist is the treasure of the Church, namely, Christ himself, who on the Cross immolated himself for the salvation of humanity. I support your appreciated service with the assurance of my prayer, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, and with the apostolic blessing, which I impart to you from my heart, to your loved ones, and to your collaborators.
[Translation by ZENIT]